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What Makes Medical Billers Unhappy


Most practice staff would say the medical biller is more often than not in a bad mood. Here’s why.

Billers are rarely thought of as the “life of the party.” They are not usually the office cheerleader types running around trying to improve staff morale. In fact, most other staff members would say the biller is more often than not in a bad mood. Here are some common reasons why the biller might be less than a happy camper.

#1: The biller’s desk is the end of the road

It is the biller’s responsibility to make sure the office is paid correctly and in a timely manner for the services rendered. This means that whatever pieces of the puzzle are missing when the bills hit their desk, the biller has to find them. Most often the missing pieces are updated insurance information. In this new era of electronic medical records, the missing pieces are increasingly incomplete notes within the electronic record. In order to simply get the claims out the door, the biller has to put on her bounty hunter badge and go in search of the missing information herself. Or nag the doctor and nurses to death until they complete the electronic notes. From a biller’s perspective, it gets old having to be the babysitter for a group of professionals who get paid twice or three times what you get paid.

#2: Insurance customer service representatives have a daily quota to reach of how many billers they can make hang up in tears

If a biller has ever snapped at you, odds are it’s because he or she just got off the phone with an insurance company. I swear insurance company reps have a script they read from because I hear the same things verbatim from way too many reps for there to not be a script. The number one frustrating thing a customer service rep does is to deny the existence of the rep you spoke to last. Billers call the insurance to check on the status of an unpaid claim. The issue is discussed with Agent A, pertinent evidence is given, and the call typically ends with the rep promising to have the claim reprocessed in 10 to15 business days. The check has not arrived 20 to 25 business days later and so the biller calls again. This time to be told by Agent B there is no one there by the name of Agent A. In fact there is no record of your previous call. And in some cases, there is no record of the claim ever being received.

#3:Nobody likes a bill collector

Another huge responsibility for the biller is billing patients after their insurance has paid. Patients who have been as happy as larks at their follow-up visits will suddenly develop a “life-altering dissatisfaction” with their care/treatment/surgical outcomes/medication side effects/wait times/doctor’s bedside manner/office décor/intercom music selections once the bill comes due. I believe there is a patient forum somewhere on the web where patients share their tactics to get their bills written off.  Posts on such forums are likely full of suggestions such as, “cry about how you just can’t go out in public knowing that scar is there, even though nobody can tell there is a faint pale line in the bend of your elbow, you know it’s there,” or “call their prices highway robbery and accuse them of billing you more just because you have good insurance,” and  “tell them you had to wait for two hours to see the doctor and your time is just as valuable as his … and don’t ever mention that the front-office staff did come out and tell you the doctor had been called to emergency surgery and gave you the option to wait or reschedule.”

#4: A biller’s work is never done

Most staff members look forward to the doctor’s vacation week as an easy week or perfect time for them to take vacation as well, but not a biller. A receptionist’s and nurse’s job are almost completely patient- or doctor-driven. This is not so with the biller. Their work is constant. There are always claims to check on, insurance companies to fight with, bills to send, reports to work, medical records to send, precerts to request, calls to answer, and problems to solve.

These are just some of the reasons why the biller might be in a bad mood today. If you are a biller and experience things like this, my advice to you is to take a five-minute mental health break every so often. Close your door, turn on some happy music, and pretend you’re at the beach. If you work with a biller and you notice a bad mood brewing, it would be a good idea to find some chocolate quick!        

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