Taking your senior parent to the hospital is never anything less than stressful. Your top priority is the safety of your loved one, and it can be hard to concern yourself with anything else. But there are other aspects to this event that require your attention. With Medicare rules regarding hospital stays, your parent's costs and coverage could be greatly affected.
Whether you are bringing your parent in for an injury or an illness, the hospital will initially have them in under 'observational care' or basically to assess their needs and response to treatment. Based off their findings, they might be formally admitted if deemed necessary. If admittance is not found necessary,however, the services your parent receives will be considered outpatient services. While Medicare part A covers an inpatient hospital stay after deductible, it does not cover observational care. If you find yourself in this situation, stay calm and start by asking these 2 questions...
- What is being covered? As an outpatient, it is important to understand whether each service received is covered or not. Medicare part B will help to cover some outpatient services, but not all. Additionally, there is usually a co-payment on each service rendered and that can be more than the deductible. You can read more about it here, but also make sure you ask the hospital representative for clarification on this. Don't be afraid to keep asking as services are ordered as well, it's your right to understand completely.
- Is it necessary? This might seem like an odd question, as usually the trust is simply placed in the hands of the hospital. However, hospitals will often conduct a myriad of tests in the diagnosis of the problem all at once. Whereas, the order in which they do them could eliminate the need for others. Be sure your parent's physician is involved for consultation, and to help advocate appropriate care. You might be able to save money by choosing to wait on optional testing for a later date with their physician, rather than at the hospital.
Although it can be difficult to focus on anything else but your parent, understanding the implications of Medicare coverage for a hospital stay will only further serve to keep them as your top priority. You can help to ensure they receive the necessary care without breaking their bank.
As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!