Not a month goes by that I don’t have someone handing me a copy of their Medicare Summary Notice and asking me to help them decipher what it says. Needless to say, it is long, complicated and confusing. Often, the question I get is “Do I owe them any money?” While these notices are just notices, and not bills, I get concerned that people choose not to review them. I always remind people that getting these notices is a good chance to review the information to be sure it records procedures and physician appointments that actually happened. For some, I am the one who reviews the information to be sure of accurate billing. At least twice in the last year I discovered inaccurate billing. In these cases they did not amount to a different dollar amount, but it was still important to call and inform Medicare of the errors.
Now, in an effort to make the notice more consumer-friendly, and encourage members to review each notice to catch errors or possible fraud, Medicare has revised the notice, and beginning next year, will start using the new and improved notice for their 36 million beneficiaries. The new consumer-friendly format can be viewed at Medicare Summary Notice. Still long, especially for those with chronic health problems and frequent medical appointments, it should be easier to review and understand, and thereby identify and report any fraudulent activity.