I. Guide to Medicare Coverage
for Medicare benefits?
- Individuals 65 years of age or older
- Individuals under 65 with permanent
kidney failure (beginning three months after dialysis begins), or
- Individuals under 65, permanently disabled and
entitled to Social Security benefits (beginning 24 months after the start of disability benefits)
Different Benefits of Traditional Medicare
- Medicare Part A benefits cover hospital stays, home health
care and hospice services.
- Medicare Part B benefits cover physician visits, laboratory tests, ambulance services
and home medical equipment.
- While oftentimes you do not have to pay a monthly fee to have Part A benefits, the Part
B program requires a monthly premium to stay enrolled. In 2008 that premium will range between $96.40 and 238.40 per month
depending on your income. Typically, this amount will be taken from your Social Security check.
Can You Expect to Pay?
- Every year, in addition to your monthly premium, you will have to pay the first
$135 of covered expenses out of pocket and then 20 percent of all approved charges if the provider agrees to accept Medicare
- Unfortunately, your medical equipment provider cannot automatically waive this 20 percent or your deductible
without suffering penalties from Medicare. Your provider must attempt to collect the coinsurance and deductible if those
charges are not covered by another insurance plan; however, certain exceptions can be made if you suffer from qualifying financial
- If you have a supplemental insurance policy, that plan may pick up this portion of your responsibility
after your supplemental plan’s deductible has been satisfied.
- If your medical equipment provider does not accept
assignment with Medicare you may be asked to pay the full price up front, but they will file a claim on your behalf to Medicare.
In turn, Medicare will process the claim and mail you a check to cover a portion of your expenses if the charges are approved.
Other possible costs:
- Medicare will pay only for items that meet your basic needs.
Oftentimes you will find that your provider offers a wide selection of products that vary slightly in appearance or features.
You may decide that you prefer the products that offer these additional features. Your provider should give you the option
to allow you to privately pay a little extra money to get the product that you really want.
- To take advantage of
this opportunity, a new form has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that allows patients
to upgrade to a piece of equipment that they like better than other standard options for which they may otherwise qualify.
- The Advance Beneficiary Notice, or ABN, must detail how the products differ, and requires a signature to indicate
that you agree to pay the difference in the retail costs between two similar items. Your provider will typically accept assignment
on the standard product and apply that cost toward the purchase of the fancier item, thus requiring less money out of your
Purpose of ABN
- The Advance Beneficiary Notice also will be used to notify
you ahead of time that Medicare will probably not pay for a certain item or service in a specific situation, even if Medicare
might pay under different circumstances. The form should be detailed enough that you understand why Medicare will probably
not pay for the item you are requesting.
- The purpose of the form is to allow you to make an informed decision about
whether or not to receive the item or service knowing that you may have additional out-of-pocket expenses.
Medical Equipment (DME) Defined
- In order for any item to be covered under Medicare, it typically has to
meet the test of durability. Medicare will pay for medical equipment when the item:
- Withstands repeated use (excludes
many disposable items such as underpads)
- Is used for a medical purpose (meaning there is an underlying condition
which the item should improve)
- Is useless in the absence of illness or injury (thus excluding any item preventive
in nature such as bathroom safety items used to prevent injuries)
- Used in the home (which excludes all items that
are needed only when leaving the confines of the home setting)
Understanding Assignment (a
- When providers accept assignment, they are agreeing to accept Medicare’s
approved amount as payment in full.
- You will be responsible for 20 percent of that approved amount. This is called
- You also will be responsible for the annual deductible, which is $135.00 for 2008.
a provider does not accept assignment with Medicare, you will be responsible for paying the full amount upfront. The provider
will still file a claim on your behalf and any reimbursement made by Medicare will be paid to you directly. (Providers must
still notify you in advance, using the Advance Beneficiary Notice, if they do not believe Medicare will pay for your claim.)
Mandatory Submission of Claims
- Every provider is required to submit a claim for covered
services within one year from the date of service
The role of the physician with respect to home medical
- Every item billed to Medicare requires a physician’s order or a special form called a
Certificate of Medical Necessity (CMN), and sometimes additional documentation will be required.
- Nurse Practitioners,
Physician Assistants, Interns, Residents and Clinical Nurse Specialists can also order medical equipment and sign CMNs when
they are treating a patient.
- All physicians have the right to refuse to complete documentation for equipment they
did not order, so make sure you consult with your physician before requesting an item from a provider.
- For some items, Medicare requires your provider to have completed documentation (which
is more than just a call-in order or a prescription from your doctor) before these items can be delivered to you:
care (wheelchair cushions and pressure-relieving surfaces placed on a hospital bed)
- Seat lift mechanisms
Units (for pain management)
- Power Operated Vehicles/Scooters
- Electric or Power Wheelchairs
Pressure Wound Therapy (wound vacs)
How does Medicare pay for and allow you to use the
- Typically there are four ways Medicare will pay for a covered item:
- Purchase it outright;
then the equipment belongs to you,
- Rent it continuously until it is no longer needed, or
- Consider it a “capped”
rental in which Medicare will rent the item for a total of 13 months and consider the item purchased after having made 13
- Medicare will not allow you to purchase these items outright (even if you think you will need it for a long
period of time).
- This is to allow you to spread out your coinsurance instead of paying in one lump sum.
also protects the Medicare program from paying too much should your needs change earlier than expected.
you have oxygen therapy, Medicare will make rental payments for a total of 36 months during which time this fee covers all
service, accessories, and oxygen contents.
- Beyond the 36 months, Medicare will limit payments to replacement of accessories,
and allows a small fee for monthly content and to check the equipment every six months.
an item has been purchased for you, you will be responsible for calling your provider any time that item needs to be serviced
or repaired. When necessary, Medicare will pay for a portion of repairs, labor, replacement parts, and for temporary loaner
equipment to use during the time your product is in for servicing. All of this is contingent on the fact that you still need
the item at the time of repair and continue to meet Medicare’s coverage criteria for the item being repaired.
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