What to Expect from Medicare Bills
Medicare is the most expansive and expensive federal program in the U.S. By providing healthcare coverage for nearly 60 million people, the country spends more than $700 billion on healthcare services for those aged 65 and up (and some younger citizens who qualify). Despite this large amount of spending on coverage, it’s quite likely that you will have some Medicare bills leftover that you must pay.
The Medicare website predicts that a person in “good health” will spend about $7,850 out-of-pocket on Medicare coverage every year (about $650 per month). That amount increases dramatically (to more than $1,000 per month) for people who have had a heart attack, have diabetes, or suffer from congestive heart failure. These payments come from all over, including monthly premiums, deductibles, prescriptions, and paying the remaining costs for the services.
Here, we will discuss what you should expect from your bills (from all parts of Medicare) and how you can help yourself in the billing process when it comes to finally paying the bills.
Original Medicare Bills (Parts A & B)
Your monthly Part B premium will be taken out of your monthly Social Security check. If you aren’t collecting on Social Security yet, you will have to pay Medicare directly either online or through a check until you do. If you do have a premium for Part A (most people don’t), it will be taken out of your Social Security check as well.
Aside from your premiums, some part A and B services you should expect to be billed for include the following:
- Twenty percent of all Part B services (such as durable medical equipment, ambulance services, and doctor services)
- Hospital costs (after 60 days)
You will be billed for these either before you get your services (most likely when you’re going in for a routine check up or second opinion), or you will be sent a bill afterward. You will be responsible for paying the provider of your services or Medicare. If they pay your provider directly, you will reimburse them for the costs they don’t cover.
Medicare will send you a Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) in the mail every three months to remind you which services you’ve received under Medicare over the previous three months. This notice could trigger your memory of bills you still have to pay to Medicare or the place that provided your service. You will also get an explanation of benefits (EOB) letter that details exactly what was and wasn’t covered for the service provided.
You can write these lists by hand in a notebook or input them into a spreadsheet on your computer by using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
How To Organize Your Medicare Bills
Medical bills stemming from Medicare coverage can pile up quickly, especially if you’re using the services frequently. For example, if you see multiple doctors, they can then prescribe multiple prescriptions. This means you’ll you have to worry about bills from those doctors on top of paying for all your prescriptions.
In order to help streamline paying all your bills, here are some organizational tips that can help you make sure you’re paying your bills on time and in an orderly fashion:
Make a list of the services you’ve received:
Whenever you receive a service through Medicare, write down the date, the doctor you visited, and the services you received. This can help you remember at later dates what it is you’re paying for and also help you notice if doctors try to charge you for any services you didn’t receive.
Make note of what you’ve paid for so far:
Alongside this list of services, make note of which services you paid for, such as copays for the visit or all the services once they’ve been done.
File bills by due date:
Once you get a bill in the mail, file it in a folder with the soonest-to-be-paid bill first. It’s nice that you sometimes have a few months to get around to paying a bill, but you don’t want to put it at the bottom of a pile and forget about it. Make sure the bills are in order by due date so you know the one on top also needs to be paid next.
Reference your Medicare Summary Notice:
This will help refresh your memory on the services you’ve received over the previous three months, and you can use it to reference your own list of services you’ve received to make sure everything checks out.
Save your receipts:
Store the receipts for services you have paid in a folder, filing cabinet, or any safe, organized place you can access easily in case you need to prove you have paid for something or to make sure you don’t pay for something twice.
You can write these lists by hand in a notebook or input them into a spreadsheet on your computer by using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. These are all really easy to reference when you’re looking back to find what you paid for and when.
All of these bills can add up and become confusing, no matter how organized you keep everything. Late bills, even for just a few hundred dollars worth of services, can snowball into thousands of dollars of late fees. In addition to following the above organizational tips, you can also purchase supplemental insurance—known as Medigap—to help bring all of your services not covered by Medicare under one roof. This also compiles them into a single, easy payment.
Medigap is a program created to help offset payments such as:
- Part A and B coinsurances
- Hospital costs for up to 365 days after Medicare services run out
- Part A and B deductible
- Foreign travel insurance
Medigap can only be purchased if you have an Original Medicare plan. It doesn’t cover out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Advantage plans or prescription drug plans.
These supplemental plans are purchased through private insurers, and they come in various forms and cover different out-of-pocket costs. For example, some Medigap plans will cover all of the coinsurance of skilled nursing care facility services, others will only cover 50 percent of the coinsurance, and some won’t cover it at all. You can view all the different type of Medigap plans and what they cover here. You will have to contact private insurers to find out the rates they offer for these plans.
The average Medigap plan in 2018 cost about $143 extra per month and that’s in addition to other Medicare premiums. Do you pay more than this in out-of-pocket costs for your healthcare services every month? Medigap may help you to reduce that cost.
If you have any questions regarding your Medicare bills and what might come from them, contact your local Social Security Administration office, the private insurer providing your Medicare plan (if you went with this option), or the facility providing your services.