Medicare assignment is a term used to describe how a healthcare provider agrees to accept the Medicare-approved amount. Depending on how you get your Medicare coverage, it could be essential to understand what it means and how it can affect you.
What is Medicare assignment?
Medicare sets a fixed cost to pay for every benefit they cover. This amount is called Medicare assignment.
You have the largest healthcare provider network with over 800,000 providers nationwide on Original Medicare. You can see any doctor nationwide that accepts Medicare.
Understanding the differences between your cost and the difference between accepting Medicare and accepting Medicare assignment could be worth thousands of dollars.
Doctors that accept Medicare
Your healthcare provider can fall into one of three categories:
- Medicare participating provider and Medicare assignment
- Medicare participating providers not accepting Medicare assignment
- Medicare non-participating provider
More than 97% of healthcare providers nationwide accept Medicare. Because of this, you can see almost any provider throughout the United States without needing referrals.
Let’s discuss the three categories the healthcare providers fall into.
Medicare participating provider and Medicare assignment
Participating providers are doctors or healthcare providers who accept assignment. This means they will never charge more than the Medicare-approved amount.
Medicare participating providers not accepting Medicare assignment
Some non-participating providers accept Medicare but not Medicare assignment. This means you can see them the same way a provider accepts assignment.
You need to understand that since they don’t take the assigned amount, they can charge up to 15% more than the Medicare-approved amount.
Since Medicare will only pay the Medicare-approved amount, you’ll be responsible for these charges. The 15% overcharge is called an excess charge. A few states don’t allow or limit the amount or services of the excess charges. Only about 5% of providers charge excess charges.
Medicare non-participating provider
Opt-out providers don’t accept Original Medicare, and these healthcare providers are in the minority in the United States. If healthcare providers don’t accept Medicare, they won’t be paid by Medicare.
This means choosing to see a provider that doesn’t accept Medicare will leave you responsible for 100% of what they charge you. These providers may be in-network for a Medicare Advantage plan in some cases.
Avoiding excess charges
Excess charges could be large or small depending on the service and the Medicare-approved amount. Avoiding these is easy. The simplest way is to ask your provider if they accept assignment before service.
If they say yes, they don’t issue excess charges. Or, on Medicare.gov, a provider search tool will allow you to look up your healthcare provider and show if they accept Medicare assignment or not.
Medicare Supplement and Medicare assignment
Medigap plans are additional insurance that helps cover your Medicare cost-share. If you are on specific plans, they’ll pay any extra costs from healthcare providers that accept Medicare but not Medicare assigned amount. Most Medicare Supplement plans don’t cover the excess charges.
The top three Medicare Supplement plans cover excess charges if you use a provider that accepts Medicare but not Medicare assignment.
Medicare Advantage and Medicare assignment
Medicare assignment does not affect Medicare Advantage plans since Medicare Advantage is just another way to receive your Medicare benefits. Since your Medicare Advantage plan handles your healthcare benefits, they set the terms.
Most Medicare Advantage plans require you to use network providers. If you go out of the network, you may pay more. If you’re on an HMO, you’d be responsible for the entire charge of the provider not being in the network.
Do all doctors accept Medicare Supplement plans?
All doctors that accept Original Medicare accept Medicare Supplement plans. Some doctors don’t accept Medicare. In this case, those doctors won’t accept Medicare Supplements.
Where can I find doctors who accept Medicare assignment?
Medicare has a physician finder tool that will show if a healthcare provider participates in Medicare and accepts Medicare assignments. Most doctors nationwide do accept assignment and therefore don’t charge the Part B excess charges.
Why do some doctors not accept Medicare?
Some doctors are called concierge doctors. These doctors don’t accept any insurance and require cash payments.
What is a Medicare assignment?
Accepting Medicare assignment means that the healthcare provider has agreed only to charge the approved-amount for procedures and services.
What does it mean if a doctor does not accept Medicare assignment?
The doctor can change more than the Medicare-approved amount for procedures and services. You could be responsible for up to a 15% excess charge.
How many doctors accept Medicare assignment?
About 97% of doctors agree to accept assignment nationwide.
Is accepting Medicare the same as accepting Medicare assignment?
No. If a doctor accepts Medicare and accepts Medicare assigned amount, they’ll take what Medicare approves as payment in full.
If they accept Medicare but not Medicare assignment, they can charge an excess charge of up to 15% above the Medicare-approved amount. You could be responsible for this excess charge.
What is the Medicare-approved amount?
The Medicare-approved amount is Medicare’s charge as the maximum for any given medical service or procedure. Medicare has set forth an approved amount for every covered item or service.
Can doctors balance bill patients?
Yes, if that doctor is a Medicare participating provider not accepting Medicare assigned amount. The provider may bill up to 15% more than the Medicare-approved amount.
What happens if a doctor does not accept Medicare?
Doctors that don’t accept Medicare will require you to pay their full cost when using their services. Since these providers are non-participating, Medicare will not pay or reimburse for any services rendered.
Get help avoiding Medicare Part B excess charges
Whether it’s Medicare assignment, or anything related to Medicare, we have licensed agents that specialize in this field standing by to assist.
Give us a call, or fill out our online request form. We are happy to help answer questions, review options, and guide you through the process.