Doesn’t matter how healthy you THINK you are.
When your stack of old calendars is a little higher than you’d like to admit, an ER trip not only becomes possible.
It might be inevitable!
Once you’re in there, there’s a lot going on, and it’s easy to get swindled — and there’s one bait-and-switch move hospitals pull that could drain your bank account.
It’s when you THINK you’ve been admitted, but you really haven’t.
Most folks assume that they decide right there in the ER who’s admitted and who’s not. From there, you’re either sent home or admitted.
But that’s not true.
You could be sent up into a room… maybe even your own room. You could be there overnight and possibly for days. You could have every specialist in the joint come in and eyeball you.
But that DOESN’T mean you’ve been admitted! You could be under “observation” the whole time.
Why is this important? Because that one-word change in your status –“observation” instead of “admitted” — could cost you thousands AND be used to deny you essential coverage afterward.
Most forms of Medicare cover far less if you haven’t been admitted, leaving you with the bulk of the bill for “observation.” Most Medicare plans also base their coverage of needed treatments later — including home visits from a nurse, or time in a care facility for recovery — based on admission.
Observation status could give you NONE of that.
You could end up being billed thousands of dollars — even $10,000 or more — just for the hospital stay alone!
Even many forms of secondary insurance won’t kick in unless you’ve been admitted — and since many folks don’t know the difference between “admission” and “observation,” they may not even realize it until the bill arrives weeks later.
A new law just kicking in is supposed to fix it. Now, Medicare patients have to be told when they’re in observation status.
That’ll only help if patients actually know what the difference means.
Since most don’t, it won’t matter. And since hospitals don’t have to tell you that status for 36 hours, it may not matter even if you do know the difference.
So, you can bet plenty of older folks will still come home to surprise bills and struggles getting aftercare.
Don’t fall into this trap.
Ask your doc what’s up. Ask often. And if you’re there for any period of time, pressure them to flip you from “observation” to “admitted.”
They’ll bite back because hospitals are under pressure from Medicare to reduce the number of admissions (yes, they’re trying to screw you to save a buck), so keep up the heat.
Call your doc — or have someone call him — because he might be able to help on this one, especially if he’s got privileges at the hospital.