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Why the end of the year is stressful for medical billers at physician practices, and what they can do to alleviate some of that stress.
The end of the month is always a bit stressful for billers between trying to make sure all the charges are entered for the month and all the payments are posted before the close of business on the last day of the month. The end of the year is even more stressful because you have the end-of-December stuff and also the end-of-the year loose ends to tie up.
Here are some practical ways to ensure that your billing department finishes out the year strong.
1. Start the first week in December calling on any appeals that have not been cleared up.
2. Check status on claims that were recently filed. Normally I don't check status for three weeks, but in December, I check claim status at one week to ensure that the claim made it through. If claims are not at least in the system after one week, see if the insurance company will let you fax the claim in, especially for high-dollar claims.
3. Pay extra close attention to benefits. Don't assume that this late in the year everyone has met their deductible. I have several patients whose deductibles started in June. Some plans we've recently encountered require that an office visit copay be paid even if the deductible and out-of-pocket limits are met and don't count the deductible toward the out-of-pocket limit. Not paying attention or not asking the right questions can cause unnecessary amounts left in your A/R at the end of the year.
4. Print a list of your patients with balances due. Consider giving those patients with large balances a percentage discount for payment in full by the end of the year. After all, if you end up turning them over to a collection agency, you will pay a percentage to the collection agency.
5. Gear up for New Year insurance changes. Contact your largest employer groups to see if they will be making insurance carrier changes for the coming year. Contact insurance companies with whom you are contracted to make sure you have the most up-to-date fee schedule. Then make sure that it is loaded into your practice management system. Educate your front desk staff about any changes for the coming year. Remind them that the majority of plans will restart deductibles January 1.