Category Archives: Billing

Every practice does it…

I was debating continuing the joke into inappropriate-land, but my professionalism got the better of me.

By “IT” I mean, no matter how careful the front desk is, the doctors occasionally see a patient that has an insurance the doctor is not contracted with. If you have a lot of non-contracted patients slipping through, please read my post on how to run a tight ship at the front desk. The purpose of this article is not to cast blame, but to help you deal with the inevitable insurance fight that will result when this does happen.

Just like all posts, this will have a detailed article and a summary wrap up at the end, and a downloadable guide. If you are looking for particular information, try pressing CTL + F and a little search box will pop up. Put a one to two word search query there and press enter. You should jump directly to the part of the post that applies to you.

The BEST case scenario when you end up with an out of network patient, is that they have a PPO, Managed Care (MC), or Place of Service (POS) plan with out of network benefits. The patient will end up paying more toward their coinsurance or deductible, which, you know, sucks for them, but the allowed amount for the provider will be the same as the in network rate.

If the non-contracted insurance is an EPO, the patient has no out of network benefits. No matter how much you appeal, you will not get any payment from this insurance. Now you have to break out your flow chart. If the patient doesn’t have anything secondary to their EPO, you bill them your cash price. Or the full price. Whatever. You do you. If the patient does have a secondary, you send a claim to the secondary with a copy of the primary denial and hopefully you are contracted with them.

Here is where it gets a little complicated. If the patient has a commercial HMO, there are a ton of rules the IPA will cite in order to deny your claim. And, if the patient does not have a secondary insurance, you can decide how much effort you are going to put in trying to get the insurance to pay your claim. You can bill the patient right away or you can appeal the charge to the non-contracted IPA. I, personally, will fight with the insurance company for a couple of rounds before I bill the patient. A patient who has insurance is very unlikely to pay your bill, even if they legitimately owe it. A patient who has an HMO generally has less money in their budget then someone who has a PPO or EPO and is even less likely to pay your statement. Here are your options with a commercial HMO patient.

  1. You are a family practice/internal med contracted with the IPA, but you are not the PCP. Unfortunately, in this case, there is probably not much you can do. You can try sending a claim to the claims department with the medical records and a letter requesting retro authorization. Here is an example of a letter requesting retro authorization. You would update the letter to explain what happened in your case. I have not had much success in convincing the insurance to pay in this situation. Mostly because the IPA has ALREADY paid the other provider their cap for that patient for the month. They are not going to pay you another cap payment, and they REALLY don’t want to pay you fee for service. 
  2. You are a family practice/internal med and you are not contracted with the IPA. You have a better shot in this situation getting a retro auth from the insurance. You would use the same type of letter as in the above example. I have about a 70% success rate when this happens. 
  3. You are a specialist and you did not get an authorization. Whether or not you are contracted, you have about the same chance of getting paid if you did not get a prior auth or single case agreement. You write a letter to convince the insurance that the services were medically necessary, or urgent. 

One of the most complicated situations arises when a patient comes in and hands you a Medicare card, but it turns out they actually have a Medicare Risk HMO plan. If the patient does not have a secondary, you would handle the charge in one of the ways outlined above. However, most of our patients with MR Risk HMO plans, also have Medicaid secondary (called Medi-Cal here in California). If your provider is contracted with Medi-Cal you are not allowed to bill a patient under any circumstances. It does NOT matter that the patient went to the wrong doctor, it does NOT matter that they gave you the wrong insurance, it does NOT matter that they specifically withheld information regarding a primary insurance, it does NOT matter that the insurance they became effective with on the first of the month when you saw them is not one you are contracted with, it does NOT matter that you requested an urgent auth and the insurance denied it. Medi-Cal does not care. My out of state readers will have to let me know if your Medcaid works the same way, but that is how it works here. Also, Medi-Cal has been forcing people into HMOs as well. So what often happens, is that a supposedly straight MR patient comes in, you bill MR and they deny it stating the patient has an HMO. You can’t send that denial to Medicaid because the secondary is also an HMO and you are not the PCP. And, unlike in the previous situations, you are not allowed to bill the patient. 

Here is an example of a letter that I have successfully used to get payment from an IPA in this exact situation. 

I have added all the letters to the links and tools page, and I have created this Downloadable non-contracted patient guide, to help you easily determine what you need to send where in which situation. If you need help with your specific patient, and your specific situation, send me an email.

If your office needs training or consulting or an audit, or if you decide that all of this is too much hassle and you want to pay someone else to do it for you, you can give me a call (909) 374-5439. I am awesome at this stuff. All the partners in New Generation are awesome at this stuff, actually, and we will train, consult, or bill, well, awesomely.

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Filed under Accounts receivable, Authorizations, Billing, Denials, Doctor's Office, Follow up, Health Care, HMO, Medical Billing

Online Class Schedule July – Sep

I have about 35 webinar topics and in the past I have offered them consecutively so that I could offer you guys the widest range of information. However, I received several emails from readers telling me that they had missed the class they needed and they would like to know when was it coming back up again. 

It turns out that “next year” is the wrong answer. 

So, here is the schedule for the next three months. My two most popular classes will be repeating, and I have five new topics. If you miss the class you needed, send me a note or give me a quick call. I will be happy to arrange a special class for you or your office. Also, here is the link to my previous topics. If you would like a special class on any of those topics as well, we can set that up. 

Here you are: 

Date                                                                              Topic

July 1st                    Common medical terminology and basics of billing

July 15th                 Timely filing and follow up

July 29th                Technology: Making it work for you and                                                                   safeguarding your data

August 12th          The global period and modifiers 24, 78, and 79

August 26th          Billing for immunizations and J-Codes

September 9th     Psych billing – Parity, Carve Outs, and how to verify

September 23rd   Maximize per patient reimbursement (Family                                                         Practice/Internal Med)

Space is limited. Each class has spaces for 10 people so that everyone can get a chance to participate in the question and answer portion of the lesson. Each class is an hour long. The classes are comprised of 30 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes to answer questions. I have learned to leave the question and answer period long so that I can address questions about how the topic applies to your situation and your specific practice. Please call (909) 374-5439 to reserve your spot. 

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Filed under Billing, Medical Billing

I am going to save you six hours of phone calls to insurance companies. Aren’t I wonderful?

One of our providers recently moved. Those of you who have gone through this can commiserate with me.

Six hours of phone calls,faxing, and emailing later, her address was updated with the insurance companies. Mostly.

So, I am going to give you the results of our efforts in blog form and again in spreadsheet form. Yay, spreadsheets! If any of you out there have other contact info for the provider relations/ credentialing/provider demographic update departments for any other insurances, please leave a comment or shoot me a quick email.

Medicare and Medicaid require that you send them an application form to update your servicing location. If you are an individual provider, send Medicare a cms855i and if you are a group, send in a cms855b. If you don’t know whether you are an individual or a group, call provider enrollment. For Medicaid, I suggest calling your individual state Medicaid and having them direct you to the proper form. I also put the Medicare forms on the new and improved links and tools page.

The rest of the insurances simply need an updated W9 form.

Aetna – Update on Aetna.com. Here is the direct link: http://www.aetna.com/docfind/custom/provider/data_correction.html

Blue Cross – Fax W9 to (818) 234-2836, attn: Anthem Provider Database Management.

Blue Shield – Fax in a W9 to (916) 350-8860, attn: Blue Shield Provider Contracting

Caremore – Fax W9 to (562) 977-6141, Attn: Caremore

Cigna – Email attached W9 to intake_pbm@cigna.com, subject line: Provider Practice Address Change

Health Net – Fax form to (877) 897-7910, Attn: Health Net PDM

IEHP – Email the provider Service Representative for your city. You will need to call them and get that info. The only one I have is for Montclair, CA and that probably won’t help most of you.

Inland Valleys IPA – Fax in your W9 to (213) 830-1815, Attn: Inland Valleys IPA

ProMed/Upland Medical Group – Even if you have more than one IPA contract with a group that ProMed administers, one fax will update everything. So, fax the W9 to (714) 667-8156, Attn: ProMed

United HealthCare – You can either fax or email the update. The email is phshpdemo@uhc.com and the fax is (855) 314-6844

I have also included all this information in beautiful spreadsheet form. Here is the Health plan updates spreadsheet.

You’re welcome  🙂

As always, if you have any questions or anything to add, email or comment.

 

 

 

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Filed under Billing, Doctor's Office, Medical Billing, Office policy

Why you are out of network for Covered CA

I have two providers who are both out of network for the Blue Shield Covered CA Silver plan. They were both surprised and displeased by this. And so were their patients. As a result, I was tasked with “looking into this, please.” Which, as an aside, I was happy to do, seeing as it is my job.

So, it turns out, the first provider was out of network with the Blue Shield Covered CA Silver plan because in late 2013 when he was sent the application for the three tiers of Covered CA plans, he chose to sign up with only the platinum and gold plans, and specifically opted out of the silver plan. Then he promptly forgot that he signed that paper and in Jan 2014 when he started seeing Covered CA people, Blue Shield told Silver patients that he was a provider. They came to him and he saw them and then they had 50% coinsurances applied to every visit. And no one was happy.

Since I learned my lesson with that situation, when it came time to contract the second doctor in this story with Blue Shield, I MADE SURE to check all three boxes for all three tiers of the Covered CA plans. So, at the end of 2014 when he started seeing Covered CA people, Blue Shield told Silver patients that he was a provider. They came to him and he saw them and then they had 50% coinsurances applied. When I called Blue Shield with a copy of the application in my hand the provider enrollment representative told me that since the HOSPITAL my doctor had rights in was not contracted with the Blue Shield Covered CA Silver plan, Blue Shield could not give him a contract that included that plan.

So, if you are having issues with large deductibles, large coinsurances, and your claims are being processed as out of network, call provider enrollment. The issue is probably either something that seemed insignificant and has been forgotten, or completely out of your hands, and something the doctor needs to address.

The contact info for Blue Shield provider enrollment is (800) 258-3091 or BSCproviderinfo@blueshieldca.com

 

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Filed under Billing, Blue Shield, Contracting, Medical Billing

96372 for Inpatient Injections

This one is quick and short.

I have been getting a lot of email questions about whether or not 96372 can be used for inpatient billing. Here is the exact text of the description of 96372 from the CPT book:

Therapeutic, prophylactic, or diagnostic injection (specify substance or drug); subcutaneous or intramuscular

The description itself does not specify a location, so I have billed it for many different settings, and I have never had a problem. Here are the notes included with the description

Do not report 96372 for injections given without direct physician or other qualified health care professional supervision. To report, use 99211. Hospitals may report 96372 when the physician or other qualified health care professional is not present.

Happy holidays!

 

 

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Filed under 96372, Administrations, Billing, Inpatient, Medical Billing

The front lines in the battle for your A/R

Your front desk staff are the marines of your office. The doctor is the general, the office manager and billers are the lieutenant and sergeants, and you can’t run a successful campaign without them. But your front desk staff are the boots on the ground, first in, last out. Their actions represent the first impression patients get of your office, and they have the last interaction with patients before those patients leave. I know that mostly, by the time you come to this blog for help, the patient has already been seen and you need to know how to get the charge paid.

But I get your emails, I know what you really need.

In a perfect world, insurances would just pay what they were supposed to, patients would send in their checks on time, and we could all leave work at 5:00. This post will help you get a little closer to that perfect world, and it all begins with your front desk. Many offices, family practice and specialists alike, end up seeing patients with insurance that is not on file, termed, or non-contracted. This happens for a variety of reasons. New patient’s tell us they have PPOs when they really come in with HMOs. Established patients forget to tell us that they changed insurance 2 months ago. HMO patients forget that if they change their PCP, they can’t come to us anymore. Howeever, with the proper procedures, the number of patients with these issues that actually get in to see the doctor can be virtually eliminated. I recently had someone contact me to train their front desk, and this is the checklist that we put together to ensure that the doctor will be paid for every service he performs.

When a patient calls in to schedule an appointment…

  1. New patients – Many offices send patients to complete their paperwork online. If you do this in your office, you only need to get the name and phone number when the patient is on the phone.
    1. Name and phone number
    2. Insurance name and id#
    3. Date of birth
    4. Verify insurance
    5. Schedule appointment
  1. Established patients
    1. We have your phone number as (909) 555-5555, is that still correct?
    2. And we have you with BlueCross BlueShield, is that correct?
    3. Schedule appointment

The day before the appointment….

  1. New patients
    1. Call to confirm appointment
    2. If your patient filled out their paperwork online, verify eligibility
  2. Established patients
    1. If patient has not been seen within 30 days, verify insurance (eligibility, deductible, copay)
    2. Call to confirm appointment
    3. Also, please be aware you have a balance of $XX.00. See you on Friday!

When the patient checks in…

  1. We still have your address as 1122 N. Del Sol Lane, is that correct?
  2. Collect any copay/deductible. If you are collecting toward a deductible, charge $50 and tell the patients this will be applied toward their deductible. Anything over that the insurance applies will be billed to their account. Unless the patient is in for a post-op, blood draw, or follow up for an established condition. In that case, the service the doctor performs probably won’t end up with an allowed amount of more than $50.00. We want to be very careful that we don’t charge patient’s more than the insurance allowed amount when we collect toward their deductible.
  3. Copy any new insurance cards

When the patient leaves the office…

  1. Schedule any necessary follow up appointment.
  2. Collect for any additional procedures performed (cash patients)
  3. Put in for any referrals

I have included this Front desk checklist on the links and tools page for you to download. These procedures are small changes that can have a transformative effect on your office and allow your billers to concentrate on what you pay them for. Namely, fighting with the insurance companies. When your billers have to run around after the front desk and try to solve these issues after the fact, it’s too late. As always, call or email with any questions. I love hearing from you.

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Filed under Accounts receivable, Administrations, Authorizations, Billing, Denials, Medical Billing, Office policy, Office Visit

How to bill Medicare HMOs

I know that is a very ambitious title, but a few people here have been emailing me with questions on this topic. I figure, if a few of my readers are taking the time to email me, then there are far more of you out there with questions. The good news is, the answer is fairly simple.

The emails I have been receiving fall into three main categories.

1. How do I bill a pap smear to a Medicare Risk HMO?

2. How do I bill flu shots/pneumococcal shots to a Medicare Risk HMO?

3. When Medicare says a patient has an HMO, is Medicare secondary?

And here are your answers:

1.  How do I bill a pap smear to a Medicare Risk HMO?

As you might remember from my previous post, Everything you ever wanted to know about pap smears, each HMO has its own way of doing things. Some want the diagnosis V72.31, others want V76.2. Some want to follow Medicare rules, and some want to pay with the preventative code.  Some won’t pay anything at all, instead they capitate it. The best way to find out how your HMO will pay your provider’s claim is to get a copy of the provider’s contract.  

2. How do I bill flu shots/pneumococcal shots to a Medicare Risk HMO?

By and large, the Medicare Risk HMO plans want us to use the Medicare codes for the flu and pneumonia substances. For the flu, use the Q-codes for the substance and the G0008 for the administration. For the pneumo, use 90732 for the substance and G0009 for the administration.  For a more thorough explanation, go take a look at my Medicare and Immunizations post.  Please remember, not all IPAs have the same fee schedule. If this doesn’t work, a quick call to the provider relations department will point you in the right direction.

3. When Medicare says a patient has an HMO, is Medicare secondary?

No.

Please, let me reiterate.

No. The HMO replaces the patient’s Medicare. The claims go to the HMO. We have to follow the HMO rules. The patient may have a copay and you may need an auth. I am training a front desk right now, and this is the policy I have in place.

If a new patient calls to make an appointment, check the insurance online while the patient is on the phone. It takes 30 seconds to check Medicare on the Noridian Endeavor site. If the patient has an HMO, make a note on the schedule and ask the patient to bring in their HMO card as well as their Medicare card.

If an established patient is returning to the office, go online and check the Medicare eligibility. The status of a patient’s Medicare can change month to month. PLEASE do not assume that if a patient had straight Medicare last month, he will again this month.

Once the doctor performs the service, good luck trying to collect from the patient. People hate to pay after they have already received their service.

So, as always, if you have any questions, please call or email. If you want us to come into your office and train your front desk or your billing department, we can do that. We do on-site training for those in our area and online training and Skype conferences for our far away clients.

EDIT: I have had a couple people ask me what you can do when you see the patient before you find out they have a MR Risk HMO.  You can try billing the patient your cash price. Or, you can send the claim to the IPA (medical group) with your medical records attached asking them to review the charge for a retro authorization based on medical necessity. In box 19 on the physical claim form write “please review notes for retro authorization.” I also like to send a letter. Here is a good example of a medical necessity template appeal letter. And everyone who gets paid due to this can thank Molly and David for their rather pertinent emails.

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Filed under Billing, Doctor's Office, Flu Shot, HMO, Medicare, Pap smears, Pneumo, Vaccinations, Well woman exam