Your Medicare Rights at Skilled Nursing Facilities

A woman on Medicare who lives in a nursing home is visited by relatives. They are told by facility staff that the resident isn't allowed to leave without her doctor's permission. If she does, she must sign a statement releasing the facility from liability, and that her departure will result in her losing her healthcare coverage.

That sounds like a plot from a Kafka novel, but it actually happened to one family. According to the Los Angeles Times, most of what they were told was not only fiction, but the worst kind of medical-hostage bullying.

Categorically, nobody -- not a doctor, not any health-care provider -- has authority to strip someone of his or her health insurance benefits, including Medicare. Of course, certain requirements must be met for Medicare to cover some costs at a skilled nursing facility (SNF). But, as The Times' story noted, if someone is receiving care, she has met the requirements, and it's unlikely that Medicare would be denied if she left against doctor's orders.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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