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Medicare Statements Redesigned for Clarity, Ease of Use

By CQ Staff

March 7, 2012 -- Federal officials have redesigned the notice that Medicare beneficiaries get every quarter that explains their benefits and claims and enables them to appeal any decisions the agency has made.

The new notice is available online now, and starting next year the paper version will be mailed to beneficiaries each quarter.

"Consumer protection starts with making sure consumers not only get timely and accurate information, but that they understand what services they're receiving from Medicare," Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said in a written statement announcing the change. "The new Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) empowers Medicare's seniors and people with disabilities. The statement is easier to understand and navigate, and makes clear what information to check and how to report potential fraud. The new MSN also makes it easier for people with Medicare to understand their benefits and file appeals if a claim is denied."

The new notice organizes the information in a form that's clearer and easier to read. Much like the statements consumers get from their private insurance companies, the new format more prominently displays the "This is not a bill" explanation and on the first of five pages clearly lists whether all Medicare claims were paid, which providers made claims for that beneficiary during the quarter and what the beneficiaries' deductible status is. The type is larger, and a more thorough explanation and definition of services is included.

CMS officials said the redesign took 18 months to complete and included feedback from beneficiaries.

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