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What is a 1500 health insurance claim form?

The lowdown...
  • The CMS form 1500 is a paper claim form presentable to Medicare and other insurance payers
  • The form CMS 1500 can expedite payments when completed and coded accurately
  • Medical providers and suppliers qualified under the waiver can file the CMS 1500; patients cannot file it
  • Form 1500 permits certain professional providers a simplified way to get paid or reimbursed for services rendered
The form CMS 1500 is a document issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. It is a billing form for services to a federal beneficiary.

Under a related law, small professional providers get a blanket waiver of electronic filing. Others must apply for a waiver in order to use CMS 1500. The form was intended to contain all the information needed to process a claim.

It allows professional care or service providers to submit a standard claim for payment or reimbursement to Medicare and other payers.

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How does form CMS 1500 Work?


The form CMS 1500 uses blocks and spaces to fill precise types of information such as diagnostic codes and procedure codes.

When combined with other codes that help modify or explain the diagnosis and procedures, a machine can read the form and get the necessary data to process the claim.

The established technology called Intelligent Character Recognition, or ICR, is the system for lifting information from the standardized formats.

The Rule Requires Electronic Filing

The prevailing rule requires hospitals and other major or institutional providers of medical care to use electronic filing when seeking reimbursement or payment from Medicare.

Non-institutional professional services providers were given the right to request a waiver under the Administrative Simplification Compliance Act. If granted, they can file the paper claim.

The rules grant some small professional offices an automatic waiver. They do not have to file electronic claims for payment or reimbursement from payers such as Medicare and Medicaid. They can use the CMS1500, the federal government’s paper claim form.

Billing Requirements


The basic billing requirement is accuracy. The date, place, and time of the provided services must be clearly stated. The claim also needs a diagnosis and proper coding of the services. The below-listed items must be part of an accurate CMS 1500 claim

  • The service or benefit meets the definition of the benefit category
  • the benefit or service may not be specifically excluded from insurance coverage
  • The service or benefit has been determined to be reasonable and medically necessary

Paper and Electronic Billing

The 837P and CMS 1500p are the electronic and paper version of a health insurance claim for payment. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid operate the payment process for Medicare and Medicaid.

The qualified providers can use form CMS 1500 for fixed fee for services contracts, such as Original Medicare claims. In a very large system of payments and payers, the CMS 1500 is the form used by Medicare.

The information is standardized so that professional can also use it with other insurance and payers. It can work with other government programs at the state and federal levels.

Professional Paper Claims Form


The CMS 1500 is the paper claims form usable by providers that receive a waiver of electronic filing. The paper form works with any computer that accepts HIPPA compliant software for use in filing claims.

Filling out the form is simple but managing the accuracy of the content requires knowledge contained in the Medicare Manual and other instructional materials. The CMS 1500 works with CMS contractors and DME contractors.

It is the primary mode of payment for professionals under Original Medicare.

Form 1500 and the Medicare Manual

The precision needed to get smooth processing of professional claims is considerable. The CMS requires its contractors and participants to be well-versed in the procedures for diagnosis, coding, and submitting accurate claims.

The CMS provides step-by-step support and instructions. The Medicare Manual has a chapter dedicated to the CMS 1500.



The key to using the standard form is to fill out the information using system codes. The presenter can string together the codes to give the highest expression of the service or benefit.

Using codes correctly can speed the processing, reduce delay or rejection for errors, and support bonus payments for accuracy.

  • Diagnosis Coding uses the International Classification of Diseases or ICD and in the most current version. Diagnostic information must be stated on the form with the highest possible level of specificity.
  • Procedure coding uses the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Level I and II codes. Because Medicare and other insurers cover procedures not listed in standard Current Procedural Terminology codes, the level II codes stand in their place and communicate the information on the form.
  • Modifiers are special codes that can clarify a presentation that might otherwise be confusing. Modifiers are necessary for complete and accurate coding and claims processing. For example, Modifier 59 can express that the same anatomical site on a single patient who received treatments for unrelated causes.

Insurance Payers Dominate the Health Industry

The role of insurance grew from the start of managed health care.

Both medical groups and hospital groups opposed insurance in the beginning. They feared losing control of medical practice to the group that controlled the money.

Today, there is little doubt that medical practice has reshaped itself to meet the demands of insurance payers.

With extensive use of insurance defined categories and procedures, the doctors and hospitals have little choice but to find better ways to be accurate and efficient when handling claim forms.

The CMS 1500 is the standard most widely used by professionals to present claims for services to payers for insured beneficiaries.

What is a 1500 health insurance claim form?


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid refined an earlier version of the form 1500. The revised version is the current standard form for submitting insurance claims for payment.

The form can be used by professionals and small practices that qualify under the automatic waiver of electronic filing. The larger providers that successfully apply for waivers can present claims on the CMS 1500.

Professionals use the CMS 1500 for Medicare reimbursement, and many other providers accept the form. The form has extensive support and training online and in government manuals.

Mastering the requirements of claims management represents a valued skill set in the health industry.

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