How to Keep My Medicare Assignment Low?

The first step to keeping your Medicare Assignment low is to speak up! Ask all your medical doctors, providers and suppliers if they accept assignment or not. Not all Medicare providers accept Assignment and unless you have a very good reason for sticking with and non-Assignment provider you are probably paying more than you need to for your medical services and supplies.

Auntie Lou says, "Take it from me, the part of the body that fails last is the mouth. Use it! If you do nothing else, ask your doc if he takes assignment"

A doctor or medical provider who accepts Assignment agrees to accept the assigned Medicare amount as full payment for service. You will still have to pay co-pays and possibly deductibles but Assignment generally lowers costs for both you and Medicare. No one likes to talk about it but Medicine is a business just like any other. A provider may have very good reasons for not accepting Assignment but you probably have a choice of doctors and providers as well. The Medicare website has an easy search form where you can ask to see all Assignment providers in your area. See: http://www.medicare.gov/find-a-doctor/.

Another way to ensure that your Assignment stays low is to keep careful track of your bills and look at all the details in those long hospital charges. Sometimes errors can be made and if you don't catch them you are paying more than you need to on your co-insurance bills. This can be a hassle but sometimes there are significant errors.

If you have a Medicare doctor or provider who does not accept assignment be aware that there is a something called a "limiting charge" that requires them to charge you no more than 15% above the approved Medicare amount for services or supplies. Check these amounts with a calculator if necessary. Often just a friendly reminder to the person in charge of billing that you are aware of the 15% limiting charge will make bloated charges vanish. Generally, you will know what the Assignment amount is from past experience but if you don't you can contact Medicare directly to verify that you have been charged correctly for the product or service. This can be done by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and for TTY users: 1-800-486-2048.

Lastly, if you have a provider that insists that you have a service or product that is not covered by Medicare ask for an alternative that is covered by Medicare. Unless you are in urgent need, a few phone calls could reveal a suitable alternative that IS covered by Medicare. If all else fails you can also pay the provider directly and file a claim with Medicare using form CMS-1490S. This form and instructions are available online at http://www.medicare.gov/medicareonlineforms/.