Considering dropping out of Medicare?
You have just six weeks to change your participation status
By Marty Krawczyk
If you do not plan to change your Medicare provider participation status in 2007—even in light of the proposed 5 percent reduction in payments beginning in January—you can skip reading this article. If you are thinking about making a change in your provider participation status, you will need to do so between November 15 and December 31, 2006.
Legislative efforts are underway to prevent the proposed cuts in Medicare physician payments and to increase physician reimbursements in 2007. Although the debates will continue in the coming months, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to release the 2007 Final Rule on the Medicare Physician Payment Schedule sometime next month. Physicians will receive a CD-ROM from their Medicare carriers that details the changes and contains the 2007 Medicare Participating Physician/Supplier Agreement. The CMS Web site Medicare Learning Network will also contain details of the 2007 program. If specific payment rates are not included on your CD, you will need to contact your individual carriers.
You should understand and consider your options for 2007 carefully because the contract will be binding for the entire calendar year (except in the event of specific circumstances such as relocating your practice, joining a new group or becoming a private contractor).
Option 1: Agree to be a participating (PAR) Medicare physician. This will guarantee you:
In addition, you can accept as patients only those Medicare beneficiaries you choose.
Option 2: Decide to remain or become a non-PAR physician who accepts Medicare assignment. Under this option you can expect to receive:
Option 3: Decide to remain or become a non-PAR physician who does not accept Medicare assignment. In this case, you will be required to:
20 percent—plus any copayments—will be paid out-of-pocket by the patient or by supplemental insurance)
“Opting-out” of Medicare
In addition, before you can treat a patient or provide any service, the Medicare beneficiary must sign a contract, prepared by you, in which the beneficiary agrees to:
This contract cannot be signed when the patient/beneficiary is in an emergency or urgent heath situation.
If you change your mind, you can “opt-in” to Medicare within 90 days after the effective date of the first “opt-out” affidavit by notifying the carrier of the revocation. In this case, you would return to your pre-“opt-out” status.
Before making a decision about which Medicare option is most appropriate for your practice in 2007, you and your practice manager or administrator should review the total revenues received from Medicare, patient copayments, bad debts and collection costs. If Medicare payments make up a substantial portion of your practice revenue, you may need to develop alternative revenue-generating plans before deciding to opt out of the program.
Marty Krawczyk is coordinator of the practice management group. She can be reached at (847) 384-4337 or firstname.lastname@example.org