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Some Medicare patients who stay in the hospital for a couple of days may get hit with higher bills than expected, The Wall Street Journal’s Anna Wilde Mathews reports.That’s because hospitals have placed them in “observation care status” – a period in which patients stay in the hospital while doctors determine whether they’re well enough to leave.
The problem is observation care somehow translates into outpatient care, at least where insurance coverage is concerned.
That can get confusing for patients who have Medicare Part A (which covers inpatient care) and expect their hospital stay to be mostly covered.
Instead, they may pay additional expenses under Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care, medical equipment, and home health services. (See how hospital billing can make you sick to your stomach.)
Add this to the growing list of Medicare patient worries. In recent years, many doctors have closed their practices to Medicare patients and a memo released by the government in January implied more physicians would opt out of the program in the future.
The best way for patients to avoid surprise costs for outpatient care is to check their status with doctors beforehand.