According to a recent study by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, medical debt is the top reason consumers report being contacted by a collection agency. Unpaid medical debt has an adverse impact on debtor patients and on the medical industry. Besides high-deductible insurance plans and aggressive collection tactics, an increasing number of billing complaints are related to faulty billing. Medical billing is complex and can lead to errors and fraudulent practices. Today, more and more providers are partnering with medical billing outsourcing companies to avoid billing practices that can cause medical debt.
Here are some of the common medical billing complaints that reliable medical billing and coding companies can help hospitals and practices avoid:
- Errors in electronic patient records: Electronic patient records to bill the patient and checking the wrong box or entering a wrong number will lead to errors in the patient’s bill. As patients do not usually see the detailed bill, they will not be aware of such errors.
- Upcoding: This error occurs when a service is reported with a billing code for a more complicated or lengthy procedure that pays more. For instance, the patient may be charged for a higher level of severity than that provided during an emergency room visit.
- Duplicate billing: This could also be the result of a data entry error when the same charge listed twice.
- Unbundling: For certain procedures, many aspects are bundled or billed together. If the provider uses separate billing codes for each aspect of the procedure, this is unbundling. This practice leads to a much higher rate for the procedure than using the bundled billing code.
- Wrong identifying information: Mistakes in the patient’s name and identifying information could lead to insurance coverage problems.
- Failure to stay up-to-date with billing rules: Billing regulations are constantly changing, and to stay current, physicians and administrators need to focus on continuing education, software, or staff training. Not doing so will lead to mistakes in billing, affecting patients and the flow and profits of the practice.
According to a recent Kaiser Health news report, being uninsured, having a low income and enrolling in a high-deductible plan each increased the odds of having trouble paying medical bills. Fraudulent medical billing practices and medical debt affect access to care and threaten families and communities.
Outsourcing medical billing can create a positive billing experience and improve patient satisfaction, while boosting the health care provider’s bottom line, cash flow, and net revenue, saving precious time, money, and resources.