Assuming that your medical billing and collection personnel are up to date on the latest medical billing regulations and changes, including the implementation of the new ICD-10 codes, there are plenty of actions that you and they can take to ensure that accurate ‘clean’ bills are sent out in a timely manner. It goes without saying that the billing process actually begins with the provider’s accuracy in charting information for patient records.
Following that, here are five key considerations that every practice should follow which should result in a higher rate of payment in medical collections:
- Verify patient insurance information with each visit, including making copies of the insurance card. Be sure that your receptionist or whoever handles the billing asks your patients about any changes of address or insurance companies. Sending a claim to the wrong company and/ or address will only result in delays, and time spent on rebilling with additional delays. Patient social security numbers also need to be confirmed; if this is a first visit, your biller should obtain this information when confirming insurance coverage. This will be important if you need to contact a collections agency in the future for recovery of delinquent payments.
- Inform patients of any copays or other fees and deductibles payable at time of service, and be sure to collect them. This should be done at the same time as verifying patient insurance and other information. Avoid billing for these if at all possible, as sending a bill for a copay of only $5 or $10 will cost you more than the fee is worth. Some practices charge a separate statement fee if billing for a copy, a procedure which can help cut down on unpaid copays.
- With medical collections, remember the baseball rule: “three strikes and you’re out.” Give the patient three chances to pay or make arrangements but if your correspondence or phone calls are ignored, it’s time to turn the bill over to a collection agency. Stamping the second bill as ‘past due’, and the third stamped ‘for collections action’ will usually bring the desired results.
- Practice timely follow-up on all bills sent out, as delays can result in denial of payment if you miss the filing deadline. While you should receive a denial notice with the reason from the insurer, this may not always be the case. Claims may be lost, especially if on paper, or mishandled, through no fault of your practice. Pick up the phone or send an email and learn the status of the bill well ahead of any re-filing deadline. Note that if leaving a phone message, HIPAA rules require that you ensure that patient privacy is protected at all times – discretion is of utmost importance.
- Use electronic health records (EHR) and paperless claims technology to handle billing chores. A good system can be expensive but worth it in terms of faster billing and receipt of payment, as well as posting to the correct account. This is especially true of practices with a large volume of patients. .
According to the experts at M-Scribe Technologies, LLC, a leader in medical billing, documentation and practice management services, paper claims can take as long as 90-120 days to process, while those submitted electronically usually take about one to three weeks for insurance reimbursement.
While some billing companies charge extra for electronic billing, M-Scribe includes free EHR and other professional services in your contract. Contact our expert counselors for more detailed information about how to get set up and start saving time and money.
Image courtesy of memegenerator.net