Inpatient and Outpatient Care: What You Need To Know
The trip of a lifetime is looming on the horizon, or perhaps a long-term relocation is imminent. Health care is at the forefront of your mind. You want to make sure you get the best possible care when you need it. And you want to protect yourself in the case of an emergency. Therefore, you pour over information about the pros and cons of different policies. Finally, you settle on the right course of action. You feel confident that you’ve compared health insurance plans. When phrases like “inpatient care” and “outpatient care” pop up, you’re not overly stressed. You’re signed up for great care, after all. What difference can it make? Turns out, it’s a lot!
Inpatient and outpatient care are terms that refer to the way that healthcare is provided. Which kind of care you get will depend on the kind of treatments you need, your long-term prognosis, and in some cases, your insurance policy. These are words you’ll want to know!
Understanding Inpatient Care
Inpatient care is any kind of care that requires admission to a hospital. To clarify, it refers to formal admission. If you need to visit the emergency room and the staff ask you to stay a bit longer for some follow-up observation – you haven’t been admitted as an inpatient. You’re just being watched until you’re sent home!
In many cases, inpatient care can come as a relief. It isn’t used for everyday minor or moderate maladies. You are unwell, so much so that your medical team wants you in a safe, secure environment. You will be treated, cared for, observed, and possibly prepared for surgery or other serious treatment. You’re surrounded by caring professionals. While you might not be feeling great, there is comfort in knowing that you’re getting the medical care you need.
Inpatient Care Can Be Costly
Inpatient care is expensive – sometimes devastatingly so. Ensure your insurance policy has generous coverage for inpatient care. It’s difficult to imagine just how quickly costs can quickly add up. You’re responsible for the costs of both your treatment and being housed, observed, and care for by the hospital staff.
You will also want inpatient coverage the includes care in private hospitals. In many countries, those receiving inpatient care are required to make arrangements for their own food and hygiene care. This is a real challenge if you have no family nearby and you don’t speak the language. Private facilities that take care of all your needs and concerns can make all the difference.
Related: Costs of Health Care in the USA
Understanding Outpatient Care
Outpatient care is any kind of care or treatment program that takes place without formal inpatient admission. It can also be the care you receive after successfully completing an inpatient admission. Examples of outpatient care include day surgeries, many mental health programs, medical situations that require follow-up care, and consultations with specialists.
In general, outpatient care is less expensive because you are only paying for your care and not for the cost of staying at the hospital. But just like how inpatient care can come with some unexpected costs, so can outpatient care. The cost of arranging comfortable transportation and parking can soon add up with follow-up visits. Seemingly simple day surgery procedures might require personal nursing care. While it may come as a relief that you don’t require hospitalization, your normal life and employment may be put on hold as you recover at home.
Thankfully, some insurance plans include follow-up care that’s required post-treatment. Nursing care, personal support worker care, and in some cases even the cost of having a family member come to be by your side can be supported with the right insurance policy.
Review: International Health Insurance and ask your broker if you are unsure.
Communicate With Your Health Care Team
While it is often obvious why some medical situations require inpatient care while others require outpatient care, some cases are more subjective. The availability of hospital beds, past health history, and the doctor’s underlying intuition can all factor into the decision for why one patient will be formally admitted while another patient in similar circumstances is sent home. If you feel there are underlying circumstances that will influence your prognosis, be vocal. Let the doctor know that you have limited resources as an expat, with no family to stay by your side at home as defacto nurses. Or if the hospital environment makes you anxious and you have the support you need to recover at home, tell your team. While the doctor’s verdict is paramount, your preferences will be taken into consideration where possible.