Define Accept Assignment Definition

Q: What does it mean if your doctor doesn’t accept assignment?

A: If your doctor doesn’t “accept assignment,” it means he or she might see Medicare patients but wants to be paid his or her full fee – not just the amount that Medicare is willing to pay. As a result, you may end up paying the difference between what Medicare will pay and what your provider charges – up to 15 percent above the amount that non-participating providers are paid by Medicare.

If your doctor doesn’t accept assignment, you may have to pay the entire bill up front and seek reimbursement for the portion that Medicare will pay.

Participating Medicare providers are those who have agreed to accept Medicare’s negotiated payments as payment in full for all Medicare services.

Non-participating providers are those who haven’t agreed to to that requirement for all Medicare services, but who are willing to accept assignment for some individual services. (If they accept assignment, they can’t bill the patient for any additional amounts beyond the regular Medicare copays and coinsurance, for that specific treatment.)

Providers who don’t accept assignment have no contract at all with Medicare, leaving patients with potential exposure to higher out-of-pocket costs.

Tags: accept assignment, billing

For each of your patients in Therabill, you have the ability to indicate whether or not you Accept Assignment.  This option can be found on the add / edit insurance card form for a patient.  The options for accepting assignment are yes or no.

What does accept assignment mean?

Just to be clear up front.  This is NOT meant to be legal or coding advice.  You should always check with the individual insurance plan or program (especially if you are a participating or in-network provider).  If you are a participating (or in-network) provider for an insurance company, then you should always check the contract that you have with that payer.

It would nearly be impossible for Therabill to give a general definition of "Accept Assignment".  But if we were to give a general meaning for accept assignment, it would be as follows.  

  • You are indicating that the case is being assigned to you and payment should be sent to you.  If you indicate No, then you are indicating that payment should be sent to the patient.
  • You are accepting the payers rate for the service.  You may be paid at a lower rate than what you charge for that service.

Can I freely choose to accept assignment or not to accept assignment.

Usually, the answer is no.  If you are billing Medicare, then you usually have to accept assignment.  If you are an in-network provider, then you probably need to accept assignment.   You should call the payer to find out whether or not you can not accept assignment.

I accepted assignment and the payer still sent payment to the patient.

You should call the payer to find out why they are sending payment to the patient.  Indicating that you accept assignment and having Box 13 of the CMS-1500 filled with patient signature (or on file) should indicate to the payer to send payment to the billing provider (Box 33 of the CMS-1500).  However, there are always cases where the payer doesn't send payment to the billing provider even when you have the CMS-1500 filled in correctly. 

I did not accept assignment and payer still paid me.

You should call the payer to find out why they are sending payment to you instead of the patient.  Indicating that you do not accept assignment and not having Box 13 of the CMS-1500 filled with patient signature (or on file) should indicate to the payer to send payment to the patient  However, there are always cases where the payer sends payment to the billing provider even when you have the CMS-1500 filled in correctly. 

What does Therabill do when I do not accept assignment for a patient.

Therabill will fill out the CMS-1500 in the correct way to indicate that you do not accept assignment.  Box 13 will be left blank and Box 27 will be marked as NO on the CMS-1500.  However, Therabill also uses the accept assignment to automatically set the status of your sessions to Closed / Patient Due after you have billed the session out to insurance.  Here is an explanation.

Remember, Therabill keeps a status of all of your therapy sessions (charges) to help you with your revenue cycle management.  When you create a new session, and you indicate that you want to initially bill it to insurance, then the status of that session is considered open (open to insurance).  A session that is open to insurance will show up as a pending charge on the client statement (billing your patient using Therabill).  If you send a session in to the bill insurance area for a patient that you did not accept assignment for, then once you actually create the insurance claim, Therabill will automatically change the status of the session (charge) to closed.  A closed session is a session that is closed to insurance and the patient owes the remaining balance due (the balance due is the charge amount minus any payments and adjustments applied to it).

Where do I indicate that I do not accept assignment for a patient.

This is on the add / edit insurance card form for a patient.  At the bottom of the add / edit insurance card form (in the Advanced section), you will see an option to indicate whether you accept assignment.  Make your selection there for the insurance card and then apply the edits.  IMPORTANT:  Always remember to save the client before you close the edit client form.

Can I set a default accept assignment?

Yes.  By default, Therabill will always mark Accept Assignment as Yes when you are adding a new patient in Therabill.  If you would like Therabill to automatically choose No when you are adding a new patient, then you will want to change your global settings for the clients.  To do this, in the top navigation bar of Therabill, hover your mouse over Admin and then in the drop down menu, put your mouse over Defaults/Settings.  In the sub-menu that appears, choose "Client Settings".  In the client settings page, put No next to Accept Assignment and then (important) Save.

NOTE: Changing the default accept assignment does not change anything you already have entered in to Therabill.  If you have already entered clients, and those clients were entered with accept assignment as Yes, then changing the default accept assignment to "No" will not change the accept assignment on those already entered patients.

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