Hospital patients being placed under “observation” status while receiving treatment should be aware of how type and length of stay affect Medicare reimbursement.
A recent Reuters report published in June explains how the difference between “inpatient” and “outpatient” status can be quite costly. For example, patients labeled as outpatient have found that Medicare doesn’t always pay the bills for a rehab facility or a nursing home. To get full benefits from Medicare after leaving the hospital, patients need to have stayed in a hospital as an inpatient for at three midnights.
The use of classifying patients as outpatient is rising. From 2006 to 2011, the number of patients held for observation rose from 27,600 to 112,000 – a more than 400 percent increase. This trend, and complaints associated with higher bills related to it, has gained attention nationally from a number of decision makers.
“There are conflicting findings about the advantages of observation that suggest two distinct models of observation care may coexist,” Keith Lind, a senior policy advisor for AARP, told Reuters.
Read the full report.