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What is an Advance Beneficiary Notice

What is an Advance Beneficiary Notice?

When you take your car in for a check-up, the mechanic tells you that he will call you before he does any major repair work. You authorize that work over the phone after he tells you how much it will cost. That way, you don't get a nasty surprise in the form of a big repair bill you didn't expect.

In a certain way, this is the idea behind Original Medicare's Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN). This is a written notice you receive from a doctor, supplier, or service provider. It tells you that you are about to receive care, supplies, treatment, or a service that probably will not be covered by Medicare. You will be asked to read this notice. There are "option boxes" that you must check to show that you want the service. You will also be asked to sign the notice, and acknowledge that you understand that you will have to pay for the services or supplies if Original Medicare does not pay.

An ABN isn't an official denial of coverage by Medicare. You could choose to get the items listed on the ABN and still ask your health care provider to submit the bill to Medicare or another insurer. If Medicare denies payment, you can still file an appeal. However, you will have to pay for the items or services if Medicare determines that they aren't covered (and if no other insurer is responsible for payment).

For what types of services might you receive an Advance Beneficiary Notice?

A few examples of services and situation where you might get an ABN include:

  • Non-emergency ambulance transportation
  • Equipment and supplies, like walkers or oxygen supplies, that are from suppliers that do not contract with Medicare
  • Certain types of home healthcare services

What else should you know about Advance Beneficiary Notices?

You receive an Advance Beneficiary Notice when you have Original Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C), ask your health plan provider about what services are or are not covered.

Service providers and suppliers are not required to give you an ABN for things that Medicare never covers. Examples include long-term care (also called custodial care), routine dental care, dentures, cosmetic surgery, acupuncture, hearing aids, and exams for fitting hearing aids. In these cases you will be reponsible for costs even though you were not presented with or did not sign an ABN.

If a provider does not provide you an ABN as required, and you received service, in most cases your provider must reimburse you for the cost of the item or service.


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Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc., is an HMO with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. depends on contract renewal.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. is an LPPO plan and a PDP plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. depends on contract renewal.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc., and Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc., are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Anthem Insurance Companies Inc. (AICI) has contracted with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to offer Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) noted above or herein AICI is the state-licensed, risk-bearing entity offering these plans. AICI has retained the services of its related companies and authorized agents/brokers/producers to provide administrative services and/or to make the PDPs available in this region.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. and AICI are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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