Medicare can be difficult to understand. The ins and outs of it simply don't make much sense to many of the same people it is designed to help. If you are currently enrolled in Medicare or soon-to-be eligible for Medicare, chances are you have questions about where you can go, and who you can see for your health care.
The term assignment is used to describe which providers are willing to accept Medicare payments. As an individual on Medicare you are a beneficiary, meaning you have reached a certain age, have been assigned to Medicare, and will receive the benefits of Medicare. As a provider that treats individuals on Medicare, it is said that they accept Medicare assignment. They accept you as their patient and therefore, are willing to accept the Medicare-approved amount for their services to you. When a provider does not accept Medicare assignment, it means he or she is not willing, or eligible to accept Medicare payments.
For millions of individuals on Medicare, the idea of assignment is not really a concern. Most providers, especially those part of a large practice, either accept Medicare assignment or refer you to someone that does. However in some areas, where there may be one or two doctors servicing an entire community, or in the case of private practices, Medicare assignment may be an issue.
Either way, by calling the Medicare help line or your provider, you can find out about Medicare assignment. If you have a specialist or family doctor that does not accept Medicare assignment, and you still choose to see them, they may charge you for services that would have otherwise been covered. It is always in your best interest to get all the facts about your new Medicare coverage before making any decisions about who to see. For help understanding your Medicare benefits, an attorney well-versed in elder care may be able to help.