On Medicare? Be Aware of Hospital Observation Charges!

By Tucker Thompson, CSA

More and more seniors on Medicare, with or without supplement insurance coverage or Advantage Plans, are getting stung with higher out-of-pocket expenses and fewer Medicare benefits in the ever-widening Medicare net called “Observation Care.” You can be admitted into a hospital for up to 72 hours under observation, which will not be paid by Medicare or your health plan. Make sure you are formally admitted as an inpatient, after a doctor orders it to a hospital, and not placed under observation admission. Time spent under observation does not count towards the three-day hospital inpatient stay requirement for skilled nursing [rehab] facility coverage under Medicare. In addition, Medicare will not pay for drugs or injections during hospital “observation care.” You or a family member should always ask if you’re an inpatient or an outpatient each day you’re in a hospital. This may seem trifle but it may save you big money plus whether you qualify for Medicare Part A coverage in a skilled nursing facility.

Today electric health files are a common source of information for doctors and hospitals. This has greatly improved health care, especially in the emergency room and when visiting new physician specialists. Your current medications, drug and food allergies, and health history can be seen in a much faster amount of time. The draw back is doctors do not seem as friendly or personal because they are on their computers filling in your health information. Doctors are now required to have Internet web sites that the patients can interact on with the physician about their health care and treatment.

Medicare supplement policies can be changed every month if you can answer the company you are applying with health questions. You do not have to answer health questions six months before the month of your birthday and three months after your 65th birthday. You also may enroll without health questions if you enter into a guaranteed issue circumstance.

Medicare benefits start the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is the 1st, then your benefits will start the previous month. For example, if your birthday is June 1, 2015. Medicare started May 1, 2015.

Tucker Thompson, CSA, has worked in the insurance field for over 22 years in Long-Term Care, Medicare Supplements, Medicare Advantage Plans, Prescription Drug Plans and Life Insurance policies.