Shelley Mangum of Illuminate Billing gives us expert advice on how to bill insurance.
Billing in 2018 continues to be a challenge for all, in particular, the predominantly out of network (OON) provider. Deductibles and out of pocket maximum levels continue to rise. Fewer plans provide OON benefits. Here are some tips to help navigate these and other relevant challenges:
- Complete a thorough Verifications of Benefit (VOB) before admit. Accurate and timely VOBs are vital to getting paid. Verification of Benefits is one of the most valuable tools in identifying if a client’s insurance will cover treatment or if other financial resources will be required. Verification of Benefit efforts do not stop once a client has entered treatment. Benefits must be checked at the beginning of each month and policy renewals must be reviewed. When policies renew, while in treatment the deductible and out of pocket maximum will reset, possibly causing significant financial burden for clients.
- Document the essentials. This may be one of the least favorite activities yet mandatory in the claims payment process. Best practice documenting to medical necessity criteria is vital. The tried and true statement: “If it is not documented, it didn’t happen” is more true now than ever before. Claims continue to be denied for lack of documentation. Here are a few claim denial causes: Start and Stop time of session missing or inaccurate, Number of participants in a group not noted, documentation is not signed by credentialed individual, medical records are not signed by the physician, physician has not order specific treatment services, medical records do not support the level of care billed and credentials and/or date is missing.
- Be aware of 2018 fraud trends. With less available insurance plans offering OON benefits, a few insurance brokers have started getting creative by signing clients up on insurance plans in states other than where they reside. Then clients seek treatment in their home state. This is fraudulent in nature. Insurance companies will take action to recoup any revenue paid on such claims. It is not a matter of if, but when.
- Don’t leave money on the table! Appeal! It has been reported that 25%-30% of claims are underpaid. Tracking allowed amounts and appealing for these funds is a fundamental part of running a successful billing organization. (FYI Illuminate Billing Advocates brought in $1,034,000 in 2017 on these and other similar appeal cases).
- Engage in regular self-care. This item is vital to all aspects of treatment and life. With greater expectations and higher demands on our time, it is easy to get burned out, become apathetic or cynical about our work. The work we do is more than just a job it changes lives. The more we practice self-care the more impact we will have on those we influence. We focus on teaching structure, healthy patterns of living and recovery skills to our client but often fail to practice them with the same intensity. For this last item consider doing one or more of the following and note how it improves your overall feelings of wellbeing:
- Be kind to yourself
- Do an act of service outside of work
- Try a new activity
- Meet someone new
- Schedule your own therapy session
- Connect with friends
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