Filed Under:Health Insurance, Medicare

Complaints about Medicare ‘observation status’ bills continue

Efforts to clear up a big Medicare billing problem may have left some of the pus to fester in the wound.

Jayne O’Donnell writes in USA Today that families are still calling a Medicare patient advocacy group with calls about surprise “observation status” bills.

A hospital can use observation status to keep a patient in a bed without formally admitting the patient.

That practice gives doctors time to keep an eye on a patient with an unstable or hard-to-diagnose condition, but a Medicare plan enrollee who spends the night in a hospital in observation status may have a hard time getting Medicare to pay the bills.

In some cases, a patient may have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to make up for an unexpected coverage gap.

A Senate committee has invited witnesses to tell them more about current hospital use of observation status at a hearing later this month.

—Allison Bell
An affected patient may have to pay thousands of dollars to fill in coverage gaps.

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