Caring for a parent, Health care, Medicare

Don’t Be a Pumpkin: New Medicare Rules for Hospital Stays

READ THIS! If you have an elderly parent, or if you are or care for a medicare recipient for whom an unscheduled hospital visit is a possibility, read this now!

Two Kinds of Hospital Patients: Admitted and Not, The New Old Age, by Paula Span for the New York Times.

In short, to receive full Medicare benefits for a hospital stay:

  • The patient must be admitted. They can now stay for days for “observation,” and not actually be  admitted. And they don’t have to inform you of the status. ASK! or wait until the bill comes. Pumpkin.
  • They must be there over two midnights to receive the benefit. If they arrive two minutes after midnight, the whole first 24 hours don’t count toward the rule. Pumpkin.
  • And if they don’t meet the two-midnights requirement then need follow-up rehab care: no coverage. Pumpkin.

Although there is an outcry from all corners, the rules, which took effect October 1, are not likely to change.

PS: And on the subject of “who knew?”: An assisted living facility may tell you that your parent’s caregiver can be there with him or her; they may not tell you that he/she can’t actually care for your parent. They can call the staff for help to the bathroom, they can’t take them there themselves. (Thank you to my friend Elizabeth for that heads up; learned when she suddenly had to find a place for her parents when their house burned last week.)

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