Beneficiary Signature Requirements
Medicare requires the signature of the beneficiary, or that of his or her representative, for each date of transport, for both the purpose of accepting assignment and submitting a claim to Medicare. If the beneficiary is unable to sign because of death or a mental or physical condition, the following individuals may sign the claim on behalf of the beneficiary:
The beneficiary’s legal guardian
A relative or other person who receives social security or governmental benefits on behalf of the beneficiary
A relative or other person who arranges for the beneficiary’s treatment or exercises other responsibility for his or her affairs
A representative of an agency or institution that did not furnish the services for which payment is claimed but furnished other care, services or assistance to the beneficiary
A representative of the provider or of the non-participating hospital claiming payment for services it has furnished if the provider or non-participating hospital is unable to have the claim signed by any of the authorized individuals (see the four bullets above) after making reasonable efforts to locate and obtain one of these signatures
A representative of the ambulance provider or supplier who is present during an emergency and/or nonemergency transport. In this circumstance, ambulance suppliers may submit a claim to Medicare if the following documentation is obtained and maintained for at least four years from the from the date of service for each date of transport:
- A contemporaneous statement, which is signed by an ambulance employee present during the trip to the receiving facility that includes:
- The date and time of the transport;
- Why the beneficiary was physically or mentally incapable of signing;
- No legally authorized person was available or willing to sign the claim on behalf of the beneficiary; and
- The name and location of the facility that received the beneficiary
- Signed statement from the receiving facility indicating that:
- The name of the beneficiary; and
- The date and time the beneficiary was received
- One of the following secondary forms of verification from the receiving facility:
- The signed patient care/trip report
- The hospital registration/admission sheet
- The patient's medical record
- The hospital log
- Other internal hospital records
A provider/supplier (or his/her employee) cannot request payment for services furnished except under circumstances fully documented to show that the beneficiary is unable to sign and that there is no other person to sign.
Medicare does not require that the signature to authorize claim submission be obtained at the time of transport for the purpose of accepting assignment of Medicare payment for ambulance benefits. When a provider/supplier is unable to obtain the signature of the beneficiary, or that of his or her representative, at the time of transport, may obtain this signature any time prior to submitting the claim to Medicare for payment.
If the beneficiary/representative refuses to authorize the submission of a claim, including a refusal to furnish an authorizing signatures, then the ambulance provider/supplier may not bill Medicare, but may bill the beneficiary (or his/her estate) for the full charge of the ambulance items and services furnished. If, after seeing the bill, the beneficiary/representative decides to have Medicare pay for these items and services, then a beneficiary/representative signature is required and the ambulance provider/supplier must afford the beneficiary/representative this option within the claims filing period.
These requirements apply to both emergent and non-emergent ambulance transports.