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Warning to Medicare Patients: “Observation” Can be A Financial Killer.

Written by Gary North on June 2, 2014

If you go to a hospital, and you go home, beware: if you go back because of related symptoms, and the hospital puts you under “observation” for one night, you will get billed, not Medicare.

That could be thousands of dollars.

If you go back, ask if they are putting you under observation. Tell them you will not consent to be put under observation. Tell them you want to be admitted as a patient. Get a witness.

What is this all about? A hidden surprise in ObamaCare.

Nationwide, readmissions are dropping because Section 3025 of ObamaCare punishes hospitals if a senior returns within 30 days.

What happens to the senior treated for a heart attack who rushes to the hospital a week later feeling faint, possibly because of arrhythmia?

To dodge the penalty, hospitals put the patient under “observation.” It’s just a word on the chart. The patient may get the same tests and be put in the same room as if he had been admitted.

But unless he stays at least two nights, the hospital won’t bill Medicare for a stay, and the patient gets clobbered with the cost. Many seniors don’t even know they were under observation until they get the bill.

So much for HHS boasting about the drop in readmissions. HHS officials fail to mention that this coincides with a rise in elderly patients placed under “observation status.” It’s a hospital billing trick, and a dirty one for seniors.

Be aware of the games hospitals play . . . at your expense.

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5 thoughts on “Warning to Medicare Patients: “Observation” Can be A Financial Killer.

  1. Good to know!

  2. michael says:

    Actually this is not the failure of the ACA it's the corp hospital getting around it's intended purpose…..that being said the rule obviously needs to revisited.

  3. Patricia says:

    It most certainly is a failure of the ACA! If someone is elderly and in poor health, they are very likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, frequently related to their prior medical conditions. The rule is discriminatory and foolish, and it puts patients, hospitals and medical professionals in a serious bind.

  4. reg dahl says:

    LAWYER MEDICAL CARE! WHY is Your health care subverted by LAWYERS ??

    What happened to the great people of the USA?

  5. My personal experience has been terrible. Last year on December 26 I had called the people who handle my Medicare and I wanted to know which dentist I should go to. They told me and I made an appointment and when I did I told them that it was through that company and that it was through Medicare and they said that would be fine. I was allowed to have a full set of X rays . If I waited until the end of 2013 then I would not be able to have them paid for by Medicare. Over three months later I got a statement from Delta dental saying that I had gone to a Dentist that was not in the network and that I owed them $418.00. I called Delta dental and their customer care system is set up for you to pick 1,2, or 3 and it doesn't matter which one you choose you wind up back where you started. I called the company, Cigna and told them and the lady said first that they do not say which doctors you are allowed to go to. That was a lie. Then she got the delta insurance man on the line for me. He said that the dentist I saw was not in the network on the 26 but was on the 27th. I told him that I know what his job is and it is to not pay anything ever but he was full of s hit if he thought I was going to accept this. I filed a grievance with Cigna and then I called the dentist and they said they would have to just not get paid. I told them that if they handle their business they shouldn't get paid. My sister who has been paying extra for Delta dental has been told that getting her teeth cleaned will cost $400.00 from her and our mother who is 89 and has all of her own teeth will have to pay $1400.00 to get hers deep cleaned. My sister had an operation and they didn't want to pay for the anesthesiologist because he was not in the network. She doesn't know who the anesthesiologist is going to be and certainly doesn't know who is in the network. She told them she would pay it at about $2.00 a week with no interest and they dropped it. This is happening all over the country, why do you think the government would be able to do something successfully?