Prohibition on Balance Billing Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs)
All Medicare for physician accounting, providers and suppliers who submit claims to Medicare for services and supplies provided to Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs) are affected. This includes providers of services to enrollees of Medicare Advantage plans.
CAUTION – What You Need to Know about Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries
All Medicare physician accountants, providers, and suppliers who offer physician accounting services and supplies to QMBs must be aware that they may not bill QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing. This includes deductible, coinsurance, and copayments, known as “balance billing.” Section 1902(n)(3)(B) 4714 of the Social Security Act prohibits Medicare providers from balance billing QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing. QMBs have no legal obligation to make further payment to a provider or Medicare managed care plan for Part A or Part B cost sharing. Providers, or physician Accountants, who inappropriately bill QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing are subject to sanctions.
GO – What You Need to Do
Refer to the Physician Accounting and Additional Information Sections of this article for further details and resources about this guidance. Please ensure that you and your physician accountants staffs are aware of the current balance billing law and policies regarding QMBs. Visit the State Medicaid Agency websites of the states in which you practice to learn how to submit claims if you are not currently submitting claims to a state.
This article provides CMS guidance to Medicare providers to help them avoid inappropriately billing QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing, including deductible, coinsurance, and copayments. This is known as “balance billing.”
Balance Billing of QMBs Is Prohibited by Federal Law
Under current law, Medicare providers cannot balance bill a QMB. Section 1902(n)(3)(B) 4714 of the Social Security Act prohibits Medicare providers from balance billing QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing. (Please note, this section of the Act is available at http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title19/1902.htm on the Internet.)
Specifically, the statute provides that the Medicare payment and any Medicaid payment are considered payment in full to the provider for services rendered to a QMB.
QMBs have no legal obligation to make further payment to a provider or Medicare managed care plan for Part A or Part B cost sharing. Providers, or physician accountants, who balance bill QMB patients may be subject to sanctions based on Medicare provider requirements established in Sections 1902(n)(3)(C) and 1905(p)(3) of the Social Security Act. Medicare providers who violate these billing restrictions are violating their Medicare provider agreement.
Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries and Benefits
QMBs are persons who are entitled to Medicare Part A and are eligible for Medicare Part B; have incomes below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; and have been determined to be eligible for QMB status by their State Medicaid Agency.
- Medicaid pays the Medicare Part A and B premiums, deductibles, co-insurance and co-payments for QMBs.
- At the State’s discretion, Medicaid may also pay Part C Medicare Advantage premiums for joining a Medicare Advantage plan that covers Medicare Part A and B benefits and Mandatory Supplemental Benefits.
- Regardless of whether the State Medicaid Agency opts to pay the Part C premium, the QMB is not liable for any co-insurance or deductibles for Part C benefits.
Ways to Improve the Claims Process
Effective communications between your physician accounting department and State Medicaid Agencies can improve the claims process for all parties involved. Therefore, CMS suggests that you take the following four actions to improve communications with State Medicaid Agencies and better understand the billing process for services provided to QMB beneficiaries:
- Determine if the State in which you operate has electronic crossover processes with the Medicare Coordination of Benefits Contractor (COBC) in place or if direct submission to the State Medicaid Agency is required or available. Nearly all States participate in the Medicare crossover process. It may just be that particular QMBs need to be added to the eligibility exchange between given States and Medicare. If a claim is automatically crossed over to another payer, such as Medicaid, it is customarily noted on the Medicare remittance advice.
- Recognize that you must meet any state-imposed requirements and may need to complete the provider registration process to be entered into the State payment system.
- Understand the specific requirements for provider registration for the State(s) in which you work.
- Contact the State Medicaid Agency directly to determine the process you need to follow to begin submitting claims and receiving payment.