Some Medicare payment policies, for outpatient services, group or bundle several items or services into a single unit for payment. Questions arise in such cases, in terms of notifying beneficiaries of liability and billing, when some of the services in the bundle are thought to be covered, and some are not.
Chapter 30 of this manual states in several sections that ABNs may not be used to shift liability to a beneficiary in the case of services or items for which full payment is bundled into other payments; that is, where the beneficiary would otherwise not be liable for payment for the service or item because bundled payment is made by Medicare. Using an ABN to collect a charge for an individual items or service from a beneficiary where full payment is made for that and other care on a bundled basis constitutes double billing.
As a result of this policy, an ABN has to apply to all of a bundled service, or none of it. This means all of a bundled service must be billed as noncovered, or none of it. Therefore, as long as part of a bundled service is certain to be covered or medically necessary, billing the entire bundled service as covered is appropriate. Medicare adjudication may still result in all, part or none of such services being paid, or something submitted as one type of bundled payment being re-grouped into another type of payment.
If the entire bundle is certain to be non-covered, the service should be billed as noncovered. If there is overall doubt as to the medical necessity of the bundle, such as when a Medicare benefit does not seem to be medically necessary, then the instructions for billing in association with an ABN or for demand billing would apply. This is always true when necessity is in doubt relative to all services in the bundle, but may also be used if a provider is uncertain of necessity of the majority services, or if there is discomfort in billing the entire bundle as covered for a specific reason.