I always try to warn new Medicare beneficiaries about the implication of being under observation versus being an inpatient when you are hospitalized.
See the video that I received from the Center for Medicare Advocacy that tells one woman’s story. As this video points out, this problem is becoming a problem at hospitals all over the country. The sad thing is the hospital points to Medicare rules and Medicare says it isn’t their fault and the patient, meanwhile, is the one that suffers the consequence. Last year I had one client whose family found out they had been under observation for 11 days! When did they find out? When they were trying to make arrangement for skilled rehab because she was being released.
What can you do? The Center for Medicare Advocacy suggests you write your representatives in Washington and tell them you want this problem fixed. Perhaps if enough people complain, eventually something might happen. But most importantly you can be pro-active when you go to the hospital. ASK not just once continue to ask if you have been admitted as an inpatient or if you are under observation.
As they pointed out in this video, the ramifications for you as a Medicare Beneficiary are dire and very expensive. If you need care from a skilled rehab and you have not been admitted as an inpatient and spent 3 midnights in the hospital. . . Medicare will not pay for you to go to a skilled nursing facility for rehab. This is not something you or your family want to find out the day you are being released to one! Trust me, I get these panicked calls more than you can imagine.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you have on one of their air-conditioned gowns; have tubes everywhere and are hooked up to machines; or are filling out menus for hospital meals- that you are an inpatient.