Aging Parents: “In Patient” vs “Under Observation” — How Being in a Hospital Bed can Fool You

Does being in a hospital bed qualify Medicare-eligible seniors as In-Patient?

For some time now, we’ve been hearing about Medicare-eligible seniors who’ve been given “Under Observation” status when admitted to hospitals–for what any intelligent person would assume should be “In-Patient” status. “Under Observation” status is not “In-Patient.” 

If parents need to enter a skilled nursing facility or a nursing home after the required three days of hospitalization, Medicare will not pay and the family will be required to pay all of the bills, including the hospital costs, if hospital status was “Under Observation.”

We might also assume that those in a bed in a hospital are automatically considered “In-Patients.” Not true. Hospitalization for those designated “Under Observation”–even if they’ve been lying in a hospital bed for the three days before going to a skilled nursing facility or nursing home–does not qualify them for Medicare reimbursement. 

If this is news to you, you’ll want to click on this February 6, 2014 FoxNews. com article with video. It explains the factors contributing to the admissions status problem, as well as the many difficulties with the appeals process experienced by “Under-Observation”-Medicare-enrolled patients, who were denied reimbursement.

There is a key word in the first two paragraphs: assume.  Sr. Advisor R, as readers know, is amazingly wise about handling life and will be 101 in September. Her wise words were the subject of an earlier post.  “Don’t Assume” is an example of R’s wise words. Perhaps that’s one reason she has navigated the challenges of life so well.

May the FoxNews link help all Medicare-eligible seniors and their caregiver children to better navigate the hospital-admissions-status challenge and all that follows.

Personal note: My Tuesday, Saturday posting schedule is still ify, so my goal of one post a week remains for the time being. My out-patient procedure in the hospital this past week (no bed involved) prompted this post when I learned that some of my “learned friends,” who are on Medicare, were clueless about the important bed nuance.

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar near bottom). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well. (Note 5/17/14 addition from Harvard Medical School for Caregivers)


Help Aging Parents–Financial Stuff (often laborious for me–and possibly you) Thoroughly and Easily Explained

Understanding Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans Can Help Parents Age Well

Because open enrollment ends Dec. 7, I’m adding this post today

I was perusing the November 22 online Huff Post 50 topics, when “25 Things You Absolutely Positively Must Do Before You Die” captured my attention. But that was only momentary. Since I didn’t plan to die right away, another article won out: “7 Tips to Help You Pick The Best Medicare Advantage Plan,”.

This informative, clearly explained article, written by journalist, Bob Rosenblatt, is also on his blog, Help With Aging, where he writes: “I developed the Los Angeles Times’ first beat on aging, and wrote a column for the Times’ health section on these issues…I am now a free-lance writer and a Senior Fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), a bi-partisan think tank, where I have been a writer and conducted training sessions for reporters covering Social Security and Medicare….” The subheading of his blog is “Expert reporting on the Finances of Aging.” In my opinion, it certainly is.

As I’ve aged, I realize I have less patience with those lengthly, important, fact-filled articles that I would gobble up (pun not intended) in graduate school. That said, healthcare is important, fills the news these days, so I resolved to read what I thought would be something long and tedious, but isn’t. While relatively long, it doesn’t seem so. It’s an easy read–instructive for those of us with aging parents–pointing out what to be aware of with Medicare Advantage Program offerings and how and where they differ from Medicare’s offerings. Worthwhile reading whether considering the Advantage programs or not.

I will be adding Help With Aging to my “Blogs and Sites I Like” tab (above). Also of interest:“Tax Breaks For Caregivers: Siblings Can Share Deductions” and “Your Job is Safe When You Take Time Off For Caregiving” Check them out.

As adult children of aging parents, most of us are well aware that helping parents age well also involves helping ourselves–so we can help them. Think airplane advice: “put the mask over your nose and mouth first, then assist others.” The “7 Tips” provide useful information for both generations.

Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest”(right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.