If you are covered by Medicare, health care providers and hospitals send their bills for your care directly to Medicare.
A Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) is the statement that shows all the services or supplies billed to Medicare on your account, how much of the bill Medicare paid and how much you still owe the provider or supplier.
Your MSN is not a bill, but you should carefully review it all the same. Your MSN can help you keep track of the care you have received and monitor your out-of-pocket costs. It can also help you spot errors — and even instances of outright fraud — on your Medicare account.
But reviewing an MSN is easier said than done. To help you, AARP has created easy-to-use "decoders" for your Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B MSNs. These decoders provide a guided tour — and translation — of your Medicare statements.
Keep the following in mind:
- A Medicare Summary Notice is not a bill. You do not need to send anyone a payment when you receive an MSN.
- You should compare the information on your MSN with bills, statements and receipts from your health care providers and suppliers. Do the dates, billing codes and the descriptions of services you received match? In some instances, your MSN may include valid charges for services or supplies you weren't aware of having received — such as for medical consultations or tests. But, as a general rule, the dates and codes should match. If you don't see codes on your provider's paperwork, ask for copies that include them.
- If you see an entry for services or supplies you believe you did not receive, contact the listed provider. It may be a simple mistake that the facility can easily correct. If it is, the corrected entry should appear on your next MSN. Or, to view an up-to-date electronic version of your MSN at any time, visit MyMedicare.gov. If you've lost an MSN or want a duplicate, you can use the same website to request that a paper copy be sent to you.
- If there's an entry for services or supplies that Medicare did not cover, but you believe is a covered service, call your medical provider's office to make sure the claim was submitted correctly. If it wasn't, ask the office to resubmit the claim. (To learn more about what services are not paid for by Medicare, see "What Medicare Doesn't Cover.")
- If you still have questions about your MSN or there's something you and your health care provider cannot resolve, call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
- If Medicare has not paid a claim you think should have been paid, you have the right to appeal. (See "Appealing a Medicare Claim Decision.")
You may want to find a convenient place to save and file your MSNs. That way, when providers send you a bill, you can review your paperwork to see if a Medicare payment has already been made. In addition, if you're claiming a medical deduction on your taxes, you can use your MSNs to document medical expenses.
Lastly, once you have no further need for your medical billing information, be sure to shred the papers rather than just disposing of them in the trash. You don't want your personal medical information to land in the hands of identity thieves!