Noteworthy News

Medicare Observation Status Explained

Observation status for Medicare patients poses challenges for hospitals and patients alike.

Hospitals that make the wrong choice between classifying a Medicare patient as an inpatient or as a patient being held for observation risk not being paid by Medicare, or waiting a long time for payment.  Patients held for observation when they think they have been admitted to the hospital may incur hospital bills and post-discharge costs far greater than those typically associated with Medicare admissions.

These challenges can be even greater for urban safety-net hospitals because of the large numbers of low-income elderly patients they serve who are poorly equipped to handle larger-than-expected medical bills.

Kaiser Health News attempts to make sense out of this policy challenge in a new FAQ.  Find it hereiStock_000015640638XSmall.

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