A 2012 study by the American Medical Association (AMA) found even while medical billing accuracy has improved, one in ten bills paid by commercial health insurance companies have mistakes. With millions of Americans expected to purchase health insurance by 2014 and healthcare practices facing a heavy influx of patients, the incidence of billing errors could increase. Patients, health care providers and insurers are all the victims of billing errors. Dealing with these mistakes is especially difficult because of the problems involves in tracking them, especially if a large volume of bills are involved. Several errors (both minor and major) may go unnoticed and result in claim denials, making things stressful for patients (even resulting in overpays) and costly and time consuming (resubmission processes) for healthcare providers.
Healthcare industry experts have come out with various tools for medical bill management. Here’s a look at some important recommendations:
- Online Tools – There are several online tools to help avoid medical billing errors. Entering your information on hospital bills and insurance in these web platforms would help identify billing errors automatically, track what is going on and stay informed. These tools provide alerts whenever an error is detected and allow you to ask a billing expert about how to correct the error. For instance, Smart Medical Consumer helps with analysis and management of the health care bills and insurance explanation of benefits which, the company says can save a medical consumer thousands of dollars.
- Mobile Application – With the increasing use of smartphones, people are using mobile apps for various kinds of billing purposes. Simplee has launched a mobile app in April 2013 which helps you manage and pay your medical bills through a smartphone. This app provides details about the errors in your bills, confirms deductibles or other insurance coverage, and helps you to pay the bill by credit, debit or FSA/HSA card. Patients can pay their bills either by check or over the phone. With this app, the patients can check their deductible status at the hospital or pay the bill while waiting inside the doctor’s office using their mobile phone.
- Billing Services – Personalized billing services such as Medical Bill Review Services, Health Proponent, HealthCPA and more can help patients identify medical billing errors, correct the errors, and fight denied claims. Annual service plans offered by Medical Bill Review Services starts at $225 per person per year. By paying an annual fee of $29.95 per year for a family (which includes your in-laws), Health Proponent offers the services of experts who can identify billing errors and negotiate bills on your behalf. HealthCPA sets up a personal online page for you where all your information is stored, after which the proprietary software and billing advocates will audit your bills and ensure that the billing charges are correct. Ongoing monitoring services are also offered.
It’s not just the patient who faces billing hassles. Even more complex are the issues faced by health care providers when they fail to get appropriate reimbursement for services rendered because the bills were erroneous. That’s why most physicians seek the assistance of a professional medical billing company to manage their medical billing and coding tasks.