The Affordable Care Act requires nearly every American to have health insurance or pay a penalty, beginning Jan. 1. The so-called "individual mandate" has been controversial ever since the law was passed.
But for people who fall into a few select categories, the mandate doesn't apply. Like Native Americans who get health coverage through the Indian Health Service, or people who are incarcerated.
If you're on Medicare and you're in the hospital for a few days, you may think you're an inpatient. The hospital may have other ideas. Increasingly, hospitals are placing older patients on "observation status." They may be there for days, but technically they're still outpatients.
This is a big deal for someone on Medicare because follow-up treatment in a nursing home isn't covered unless someone has been an inpatient for at least three days. That's leaving some seniors on the hook for thousands of dollars in nursing home bills.