Medicare Summary Notice

A Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) is a document that summarizes the healthcare services and supplies you received through Medicare. MSNs track what Medicare paid and any amount you may owe. It's a good idea to keep your summary notice for 1 to 3 years. It’s best to shred your MSNs once they are no longer useful. You can also access your MSN online by logging onto your MyMedicare.gov account.

Rachel Christian, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Rachel Christian

    Rachel Christian

    Financial Writer and Certified Educator in Personal Finance

    Rachel Christian is a writer and researcher for RetireGuide. She covers annuities, Medicare, life insurance and other important retirement topics. Rachel is a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education.

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    Lee Williams
    Lee Williams, senior editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lee Williams

    Senior Financial Editor

    Lee Williams is a professional writer, editor and content strategist with 10 years of professional experience working for global and nationally recognized brands. He has contributed to Forbes, The Huffington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, AskMen.com, Electric Literature and The Wall Street Journal. His career also includes ghostwriting for Fortune 500 CEOs and published authors.

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    Jerrad Prouty, Medicare Expert & RetireGuide Reviewer

    Jerrad Prouty

    Licensed Agent at Insuractive

    Jerrad Prouty is a licensed agent at Insuractive with a specialization in selling Medicare insurance. He is licensed to sell insurance in more than 15 states.

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  • Published: June 23, 2021
  • Updated: October 10, 2023
  • 7 min read time
  • This page features 8 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
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A licensed insurance professional reviewed this page for accuracy and compliance with the CMS Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMGs) and Medicare Advantage (MA/MAPD) and/or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) carriers’ guidelines.

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How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Christian, R. (2023, October 10). Medicare Summary Notice. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/summary-notice/

MLA Christian, Rachel. "Medicare Summary Notice." RetireGuide.com, 10 Oct 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/summary-notice/.

Chicago Christian, Rachel. "Medicare Summary Notice." RetireGuide.com. Last modified October 10, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/summary-notice/.

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Key Takeaways
  • A Medicare Summary Notice is a letter you receive from Medicare every three months summarizing your Medicare activity.
  • The Notice is not a bill, but a statement showing the Medicare claims health care providers have made to Medicare for their services.
  • You can use your Medicare Summary Notices to monitor your out-of-pocket costs and to make sure you’ve been properly billed for the services you received.
  • You should keep your notices for one to three years.

What Is a Medicare Summary Notice?

A Medicare Summary Notice is a letter that people with Original Medicare receive every three months. This is a claims statement, not a bill.

Your MSN includes a list of all doctor visits, services or supplies billed to Medicare in your name during the three-month period.

MSNs explain the charges Medicare will pay along with the maximum amount you may owe.

Beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a standalone Part D plan will receive an explanation of benefits from their plan provider, not a Medicare Summary Notice.

Why Understanding Your Medicare Statement Is Important

Your Medicare Summary Notice can help you monitor your out-of-pocket costs and ensure you were properly billed for the services you received.

You should compare the information on your notice with bills, statements and receipts from your health care providers and suppliers.

Ensure that the dates, billing codes and descriptions of services you received match.

“One of the most common billing mistakes we see are providers billing patients directly instead of submitting through insurance,” said Caitlin Donovan, a health care policy expert at the nonprofit Patient Advocate Foundation.

Health care billing mistakes are extremely common, said Donovan, whose organization estimates that at least half of all patient’s medical bills contain errors.
“A provider may have a claim denied by Medicare. Instead of fixing it, they just bill the patient directly — either as a mistake or intentionally,” Donavon told RetireGuide.

That’s why waiting for your Medicare statement is important: It’s a way to make sure Medicare has received a claim from your provider and the provider has paid their share.

“You can compare your bill and (Medicare statement) to see what you owe, and make sure it’s the correct amount,” Donovan said. “If they’re different, there’s probably been a mistake somewhere.”

If numbers or dates don’t match up, you need to report it. It may be a simple clerical error, or it could be a red flag for Medicare fraud.

Call your provider or Medicare, depending on the mistake, Donovan said.

Contact your doctor’s office for clerical mistakes, such as incorrect medical coding. For any other incorrect information, contact Medicare’s customer service and support.

Otherwise, Medicare assumes you received the services provided as described in the notice and may deny coverage until errors are resolved.

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The Different Parts of a Medicare Summary Notice

You’ll receive a Medicare Summary Notice for both Part A and Part B. Each page contains specific information.

Navigating Your Medicare Summary Notice
Page 1
This is your dashboard. It shows how much of your yearly deductible has been paid. You’ll see a summary of your approved and denied claims, as well as the total you may be billed. Your Part A notice will include a list of the facilities you visited, along with dates for the services you received. Your MSN for Part B will include a list of dates and the doctors you saw.
Page 2
Here you’ll find helpful tips on how to review your notice, fraud-report directions, contact numbers for Medicare and other general messages from Medicare.
Page 3
This page details your claims information. The Part A Medicare Summary Notice will describe the type of claim (inpatient or outpatient), the start date of your current benefit period and the dates of service. The Part B notice will describe the type of claim (assigned or unassigned), service descriptions and the dates on which you visited your doctor. Both MSNs include a column of approved or denied claims along with the total amount the provider or facility can bill you highlighted in bold.
Last Page
Here you’ll find out how to handle denied claims. It will explain your options and provide you with information on filing an appeal with Medicare.

If you need help understanding your Medicare Summary Notice, your Senior Medicare Patrol can help.

Senior Medicare Patrol chapters are grant-funded projects of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living. The program aims to prevent, detect and report fraud and errors in the Medicare program.

This 20-minute tutorial from the Senior Medicare Patrol presents the basics of how to read your MSN.

How Long Should You Keep Medicare Summary Notices?

According to experts, it’s recommended to hold onto them for at least one to three years. 

It’s also important to keep them while the listed medical services are in the payment process by Medicare and supplemental insurance. Although Medicare generally does not follow up on anything older than three years, it’s a good practice to keep them for tax purposes as well.

How long you keep these records depends on your personal preference. Remember, you can access Medicare Summary Notices from the last 36 months at any time online through your My Medicare Account.

How To Request a Medicare Summary Notice

You will automatically receive your Medicare Summary Notice in the mail every three months. You do not need to request it.

You can also request MSNs in accessible formats, including Braille, large print, data or audio files, relay services and TTY communications.

3 Ways To Request Medicare Summary Notices in an Accessible Format
  1. Call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY: 1-877-486-2048)
  2. Email altformatrequest@cms.hhs.gov
  3. Mail a letter (include your name, phone number and the mailing address where materials should be sent) to: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Offices of Hearings and Inquiries (OHI), 7500 Security Boulevard, Mail Stop S1-13-25, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850, Attn: Customer Accessibility Resource Staff

If you misplace a notice or need to request an older copy, you can do so by logging in to your online Medicare account. This allows you to review all claims processed within the last 36 months.

Can You Get Medicare Summary Notices Online?

Yes, Medicare Summary Notices are available online — but you must sign up to receive them electronically.

If you opt for electronic notices, you’ll stop receiving printed copies of your MSNs in the mail.

Instead, you’ll get an email every month from your online My Medicare Account. You can then view your MSN online and print a copy if you want it.

Steps To Sign Up for Electronic Medicare Summary Notices
  1. Log into or create your online Medicare account.
  2. Select "Get Your Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) electronically" under the "My Messages" section at the top of your account homepage.
  3. You'll reach the "My Communication Preferences" page. Select "Yes" under "Change eMSN Preference."

Signing up for eMSNs can help you reduce paperwork at your home. You can access these online documents at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions: Your Medicare Summary Notice

Is a Medicare Summary Notice the same as an explanation of benefits?
A Medicare Summary Notice is not the same as an explanation of benefits. Both summarize the health care services you received. Original Medicare sends an MSN out. Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans send out EOBs. Neither is a bill.
What does Medicare recommend keeping in mind when reading over your notices?
Your Medicare Summary Notice shows how much Medicare paid for each service you received and how much you had to pay. Check for discrepancies. Compare your records to what’s on the MSN to make sure everything is in alignment.
What should you do if Medicare denies you coverage?
You can file a Medicare appeal if Medicare — or your Medicare plan — denies coverage for a service you think it should cover. If you have Original Medicare, you must file an appeal by the date listed in your Medicare Summary Notice.
Last Modified: October 10, 2023

8 Cited Research Articles

  1. Banas, R. (n.d.). Not Paying Attention to Your Medicare Summary Notices Can Be Costly. Retrieved from https://www.gardant.com/articles/not-paying-attention-to-your-medicare-summary-notices-can-be-costly/
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2021, August). Part A - What is in your “Medicare Summary Notice”? Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/summarynoticea.pdf
  3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2021, August). Part B: What’s in Your Medicare Summary Notice? Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/summarynoticeb.pdf
  4. Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Accessibility & Nondiscrimination Notice. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/about-us/accessibility-nondiscrimination-notice
  5. Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Go paperless. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/go-digital
  6. Medicare.gov. (n.d.). "Medicare Summary Notice" (MSN). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/forms-publications-mailings/mailings/costs-and-coverage/medicare-summary-notice
  7. North Carolina Senior Medicare Patrol. (n.d.). What is a Medicare Summary Notice? Retrieved from https://www.ncdoi.gov/media/1816/open
  8. Senior Medicare Patrol. (n.d.). Read Your Medicare Statements. Retrieved from https://www.smpresource.org/Content/You-Can-Help/Read-Your-Medicare-Statements.aspx