GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Medicare patients who are hospitalized and don’t know their status could pay higher out-of-pocket fees for drugs and medical services.

Cheryl Hennen, an ombudsman for long-term care at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, says when admitted to the hospital, it’s important for Medicare patients to know their status. For example, “In-patient Status”
in a hospital is covered by Medicare Part A, which is less expensive. “Observation Status” means a patient is considered an outpatient at the hospital. In most cases those individuals will not receive Medicare coverage, if they go into a nursing home.

Also, drugs may not be covered under Medicare Part B if a patient is on an “Observation Status”. Hennen says Medicare recipients have a right to find out their status, and hospital patients must now get a written notice informing them if they are on “Observation Status”. And Hennen says, if patients are placed on “Observation Status”, they should talk to their doctor to get their status changed and then monitor their hospital bills.

For information on a wide variety of aging-related topics, call the Minnesota Board on Aging's "Senior Linkage Line". Experts are on hand to answer your questions weekdays from 8am to 4:30pm. The toll free number to call is 1 (800) 333-2433.