Last Day to Change Your Medicare Participation Status for 2018 is December 31


Once again, it’s time for doctors to decide if they want to make changes to their Medicare participation status. Physicians have until December 31, 2017, to make changes for the 2018 participation year.

As always, doctors have three choices regarding Medicare: Be a participating provider; be a non-participating provider; or opt out of Medicare entirely. Details on each of the three participation options are as follows:

• A participating physician must accept Medicare-allowed charges as payment in full for all Medicare patients.

• A non-participating provider can make assignment decisions on a case-by-case basis and bill patients for more than the Medicare allowance for unassigned claims. Non-participating physician fees are 95 percent of participating physician fees. If you choose not to accept assignment, you can charge the patient 9.25 percent more than the amounts allowed in the participating physician fee schedule (which equates to 15 percent of the non-participating fees).

• Physicians who opt out of Medicare are bound only by their private contracts with their patients. Medicare’s limiting charges do not apply to these contracts, but Medicare does specify that these contracts contain certain terms. When a physician enters into a private contract with a Medicare beneficiary, both the physician and patient agree not to bill Medicare for services provided under the contract. As a result of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Action of 2015 (MACRA),

validated opt-out affidavits signed on or after June 16, 2015, will automatically renew two years after the effective date.

Doctors who want to change their participation status for 2018 must send a letter to Noridian, California’s Medicare contractor, postmarked by December 31, 2017.