I am taking a brief respite from the previously mentioned outline for the series of posts on allowables and fee schedules to mention a key point about allowables - they are often ignored by insurance companies. If you are not systematically comparing your payments to your contracted allowables you are losing thousands of dollars. Most likely, your revenue is 7% lower than it should be - that is right 7%!
A recent National Health Insurer Report Card compiled by the American Medical Association measured payment accuracy of seven major payers: Aetna, Anthem BCBS, Cigna, Coventry, Human, United Healthcare and Medicare.
All of these payers to some degree strayed from contracted payment rate. The worst offender was United (did not pay contracted rate in 38.4% of cases), followed by Cigna (did not pay contracted rate in 33.8% of cases), Aetna (did not pay contracted rate in 29.2% of cases), Anthem BCBS (did not pay contracted rate in 27.9% of cases), Humana (did not pay contracted rate in 15.8% of cases) and Coventry (did not pay contracted rate in 13.3% of cases). Even Medicare missed contracted payment rates in almost 2% of cases.
It is hard to methodically track these underpayments. From our experience at ClaimCare Medical Billing Services, as we look across multiple clients we will see the exact same CPTs being underpaid by the same amount by the same payer in a given month across all of our clients. The following month we will see the same payer switch to underpaying a different set of CPTs. These under payments are not huge but they add up quickly to big dollars for a medical practice. The combination of switching the codes being underpaid from month-to-month and keeping the underpayment amount "under the radar" can make this difficult for an individual practice to spot. It is also difficult for a billing office to spot if they are not comparing your payments to your contracted rates (and dealing with multiple procedure complexities properly).
At ClaimCare Medical Billing Services we have found that comparison of payments to allowables can increase a medical practice's collections by 5 to 10 percent. This of course requires a strong process, powerful reporting technology and the ability to track complex procedures methodically-in the end, it can however add thousands of dollars to your bottom line.
Copyright 2009 by ClaimCare Inc and the ClaimCare Medical Billing Company