Starting today, a new state law requires Connecticut hospitals to tell patients when they are being kept in the hospital for observation instead of being admitted. Hospitals must also warn patients about the financial consequences. After the doctor determines what’s wrong, he or she decides whether the patient is sick enough to be admitted or well enough to go home. Observation patients receive treatment and depending on their insurance, can be charged a share of the cost.
Medicare observation patients whose doctors order follow-up nursing home care will have to pay the nursing home themselves in addition to hospital bills. Medicare covers nursing homes only if seniors are admitted to the hospital and stay through three consecutive midnights. Medicare also does not require hospitals to tell patients when they are getting observation care or what it means. Although some Connecticut hospitals already notify their Medicare observation patients, the new law requires all hospitals to notify patients, both orally and in writing within 24 hours of placing a patient on observation status.
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