One of the most common misconceptions that Medicare Beneficiaries have relates to their deductible. Most people that are going into Medicare for the first time are accustomed to having group coverage, and they may incorrectly be under the impression that once they take Medicare they don’t have to pay anything. Do Not Pay Your Part B Deductible at Doctor Appointments
All of us wish this was the way things work, unfortunately it is not. When starting Medicare it is important to know what costs you are responsible for are and how you pay those expenses.
With Medicare Part A, in 2018, you must meet a deductible of $1,340 for each occurrence into the hospital, once that is met the benefit period last 90 days.
In other words if you go back to the hospital within 90 days for the same thing you will not have to pay the $1,340 again, but if you go in for another reason you could have to pay it again.
If you are in the hospital for more than 90 days additional costs will occur.
It is also worth a mention that when in the hospital certain services could be covered under Medicare Part B instead of A. This means you could have additional costs beyond the $1,340 for the stay.
Medicare Part B has a annual deductible of $183in 2018. Once you have satisfied that deductible you will then be responsible for 20 percent of all costs, and potentially excess charges in most states.
When you go to a doctor that accepts Medicare, there are two designations that come up. A doctor that accepts Medicare assignment, and A doctor that accepts Medicare but does not accept Medicare assignment.
When a doctor accepts Medicare assignment it means they agree to accept what Medicare pays as full payment; if a doctor does not accept Medicare assignment it means they are allowed to charge up to 15% more than the Medicare approved amounts. That 15% is called an excess charge.
One of the easiest ways to find this out is simply ask, “Do you accept Medicare assignment?”, or “Do you charge excess charges?” Your doctor’s office will disclose to you if they do or do not accept Medicare assignment. You can also go to Medicare.gov and use the Physician lookup to look up your doctor and find out if they take Medicare assignment.
This is a reoccurring question for Medicare Beneficiaries. It is a very important question to get the correct answer to, and here is how it works. When you go to the doctor you should show your Medicare card, if you have additional insurance like a Medicare Supplement you should show it as well.
Upon conclusion of the doctor visit, the office staff will send the bill to Medicare. Once Medicare receives the bill they will determine if your deductible(s) has been met. If not, you will be sent a bill up to the amount of the deductible. If the bill is greater than the deductible, you may receive additional bills. Those bills will be for your 20% or excess charges.
If you have secondary coverage such as a Medicare Supplement, some or all of those costs could be paid for by your supplement plan leaving you with little or nothing to pay out of pocket.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, the process will work a little differently and you have other concerns. A Medicare Advantage Plan essentially replaces your Original Medicare with a network based plan. When covered by a Medicare Advantage Plan it is common that you would have to pay at the doctors office prior to being seen.
Some have out of network benefits. If your Medicare Advantage Plan has out of network benefits, it will also have a separate own set of co-pays, deductibles, and out of pocket costs. Most of the time your out of network responsibility will be double your in network amounts.
If you paid your doctor already for your deductible, it is possible Medicare will send you a bill for the deductible amount. It happens when Medicare receives an invoice from your doctor, Medicare automatically sends you a notice requesting payment for your deductible.
If this happens you will need to pay that deductible to Medicare, and go back to your doctor and try to straighten it out with their billing department. Most medical provider billing departments know that with Medicare Beneficiaries they should not collect the deductible or any funds up front.
This can be a hassle. If you have a doctors office that tried to make you pay your Medicare deductible up front, you may want to consider if that doctor has your best interest in mind.
When it comes to the hospital deductible, it should work the same way. Upon being discharged, the hospital should bill Medicare. After Medicare applies their billing process you will receive bills for your portion, whether it be just the deductible or additional amounts.
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Jagger Esch is the President & CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ, a senior healthcare learning resource center. As a young entrepreneur and seasoned insurance expert, he has a passion for helping people. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. Jagger lives in the Florida sunshine state and loves boating with his family on the weekends.View All Articles