In the Hospital Under Observation? First, the good news: If you’re in the hospital under observation status—a designation under which you’re considered an outpatient and not entitled to Medicare Part A reimbursement for your stay—a new law says the hospital must give you both written and oral notification that you’re not covered. This law ensures that you won’t be surprised by large hospital bills you’ll have to pay out of pocket—bills that Medicare might normally pay had you been admitted as an inpatient. Here’s the bad news: The hospital has up to 36 hours after you’ve received observational services to notify you, and even so, you’ll still be accountable for the associated costs you incurred while under observation. The only recourse you have is to convince your doctor and the hospital to admit you as an inpatient so Medicare coverage will kick in. If you have Medicare Part B, you’ll be charged a copayment for each hospital service you received and 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for most doctor services, after the Part B deductible. Being under observation—typically 24 to 48 hours—also affects whether Medicare pays for a subsequent nursing home stay. To qualify for Medicare coverage in a skilled nursing facility, you must spend at least three consecutive days and nights as a hospital inpatient before you transfer to a facility. Otherwise, if you’re under observation, Medicare will not pay your nursing facility costs because you’re considered an outpatient at the time of transfer. The law, called the Federal Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act, or NOTICE, was passed by Congress in 2015, but hospitals had a grace period to comply, which ended on March 8, 2017.
If you have osteoarthritis, the ”wear and tear” form that can affect knees, shoulders and other joints, you’ve got company. An estimated 27 million people in the U.S. have it, and your chances of getting it increase with age.
One key to living well with osteoarthritis is being more active. While “Go, exercise!” may be the last thing you want to hear when you have OA, experts say that it really can help. Too little movement makes stiffness worse, while boosting movement improves joint function, strength and endurance. And as your muscles strengthen, your risk of falls—and fractures—declines, because your joints are better protected.
According to the CDC, physical activity can reduce pain and improve physical functioning in adults with arthritis by about 40 percent. But one in three adults with arthritis are inactive. Expert also say that you can actually reduce your arthritis symptoms by participating in a disease management education program. However, only one in 10 adults have participated in this type of program.
So, a little exercise and a little education can translate to better, less painful movement and functioning—but of course, you need a plan. If you’re motivated, check out our picks of the best mobile apps, websites and classes designed specifically for people with OA; most of these include exercises along with a disease management component.
Walk With Ease
An Arthritis Foundation program, the Walk with Ease app is available for download to iPhone, iPad and Android devices; click here for those links. You can also get help on your computer here. How does it work? You set physical activity goals by creating a contract with yourself; then you track your walking and your progress. You can link to your Fitbit and import Fitbit activity data, too. To get the most out of the program, use the app with the Walk…