Larry Barrows, 76, spent eight days in a Canton, Connecticut, hospital after falling twice in a day. Despite being covered by Medicare, the federal health plan for the elderly, Barrows was hit with $36,000 in normally reimbursed bills because of an unintended glitch in U.S. rules.
John Dempsey Hospital said Barrows was under “observation” during his stay, said his wife, Lee. Under Medicare rules, patients listed as under observation face 20 percent co-payments that wouldn’t be required if they were admitted, and expensive aftercare isn’t covered at all. Larry Barrows needed three months of rehabilitation that Medicare wouldn’t pay for because the hospital didn’t call him an inpatient, something his family didn’t learn until halfway through his hospital stay, said his wife.