Physicians allowed to bill for missed appointments

Many physicians still don't know that a policy change that took effect in October allows them to bill Medicare and Medicaid patients for missed appointments, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Although Medicare "does not make any payments for missed appointment fees or charges imposed by physicians," the Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 1, General Billing Requirements, says physicians may bill beneficiaries directly.

A physician's or supplier's missed appointment policy must apply equally to all patients (Medicare and non-Medicare), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.

Also according to the manual, the reason such an incident is not covered is that "the charge for a missed appointment is not a charge for a service itself (to which the assignment and limiting charge provisions apply) but rather is a charge for a missed business opportunity."