Many providers today are choosing to outsource their billing. The billing process has become much more involved over the past few years and for many it makes sense to outsource. Between the software updates, required electronic filing of claims, NPI numbers, and other changes, it has become nearly impossible for providers to keep up.
However, if you have only ever used one biller, or one billing service, then you might not really know what you should be expecting from them. We have providers who use other services ask us sometimes “Should my billing service be doing this for me, or is it something I need to do in my office?”
It is good to clearly know what your billing service should be doing, and what your office will be responsible for. That way you can keep things running smoothly. Not all billing services do things the same way and that is ok, as long as you know what yours is doing and it works for you. We actually provide different services for different accounts depending on the needs of the office. For example, we do not normally get involved with obtaining authorizations, however we have a couple of clients who cannot handle getting them from their office so they pay us extra to take care of that for them.
But there are some things that all billing services should handle. Billing is not just the act of submitting the insurance claims and waiting for payment to come. A good billing service will submit the claims, electronically whenever possible, check electronic reports for denials and bad batches, and follow up on unpaid claims. They should also take care of any denied claims.
If they are not checking electronic reports and doing regular follow up then you are losing money and so are they. Electronic reports will notify you if there are issues with any of your claims or with entire batches. If they are not reading them then they are not fixing those issues. For example, an electronic report will return a claim if the ID number is not right. Maybe it is a simple typo, two numbers got transposed, but if the electronic reports are not being read it could be a big problem. What if it is a patient that comes in once a week? None of the claims are going through because the ID number was not fixed.
Many insurance carriers today have time filing deadlines. Some are very short, like 60 days from the date of service. If regular follow up is not being done then money can be lost due to timely filing. Follow up reports should be run every 4-6 weeks and all claims over 30 days should be checked on.
There are other things that billing services can do to keep your accounts receivable running smoothly, but those are the basics. If you feel that your accounts receivable is not what it should be you might want to consider meeting with your billing service and asking what can be done to improve the situation. Tell them you would like a report of your accounts receivables. What are your figures over 30 days, over 60 days? They should be willing to provide you with reports of what is outstanding and why and it should not take more than a couple of days for them to make the reports available. If they are unwilling to provide you with this information then you need to consider why.
I am not trying to rat anybody out. I am just trying to make us all accountable to providing the best service possible so that billing services do not get a bad name. We hear too many stories of bad services and it makes providers leery of outsourcing when it is a viable option.
Copyright 2008 – Michele Redmond – Solutions Medical Billing Inc