Are you a hospital inpatient or outpatient? If you have Medicare--ASK!

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Did you know that even if you stay in the hospital overnight, you might still be considered an “outpatient”? Your hospital status(whether the hospital considers you an “inpatient” or “outpatient”) affects how much you pay for hospital services (like X-rays, drugs, and lab tests) and may also affect whether Medicare will cover care you get in a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility.

You’re an inpatient starting the day you’re formally admitted to the hospital with a doctor’s order. The day before you’re discharged is your last inpatient day.

You’re an outpatient if you’re getting emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient. In these cases, you’re an outpatient even if you spend the night at the hospital.

Note:Observation services are hospital outpatient services given to help the doctor decide if the patient needs to be admitted as an inpatient or can be discharged. Observation services may be given in the Emergency Department (ED) or another area of the hospital.

If you’re in the hospital more than a few hours, always ask your doctor or the hospital staff if you’re an inpatient or an outpatient.

Click here for more information from the Department of Health and Human Services.