Assignment is an important word for the Medicare recipient. It refers to how the health care provider is paid. If a doctor accepts assignment, the doctor has agreed to always accept the medicare approved amount for each service provided as payment in full. Since Medicare pays 80% of the Medicare approved amount, that makes the insured responsible for the 20% balance remaining. All Medicare Supplements will cover the 20% balance after the deductible ($110 in 2005) has been met. Medicare pays the doctor 80% of the Medicare approved amount directly. If the insured has a Medigap policy, the Medicare Supplement company then pays the doctor via electronic claims processing the remaining 20%.
If assignment is not accepted, the doctor can charge up to 15% above the Medicare approved amount. This limiting charge does not apply to all services and supplies. Medicare Supplements like Plans F and G cover all or most of this excess charge.