5 Secrets to Reduce Write-Offs

 Reduce the steep claim-denial-to-write-off learning curve by applying these 5 strategies to keep more of the money you work so hard to earn. 

Do You Know How Much Money You Lose Every Month through Write-offs?

If you’re not tracking your claim denials, and systematically following up with insurance companies to resolve issues and get those claims paid, you just don’t. 

Can you afford that? 

If you’re like most behavioral and mental health, or substance abuse treatment providers in a private or small practice, your answer will be a resounding “No!” If you’re not a medical billing expert, though, you’ll continue to lose revenue until you learn the secrets to reducing claim denial write-offs. Reduce the steep claim-denial-to-write-off learning curve by applying these 5 strategies to keep more of the money you work so hard to earn. 

#1

Follow Up on All Denials — and Schedule Time to Work Toward Their Timely Resolution

Why all? Because you may think of a loss here and there as no big deal, but very few of us would deliberately rip up even a $1 bill. Instead, look at it this way: 

You will not win 100 percent of the denials you challenge. By following up on every one of them, you make sure you only lose the revenue from those that could have never been collected anyway. 

Make claim denial management a habit. Set aside time every other week to look over all denials that have come in and call the insurance companies to find out why the claim has been denied. Then, if it’s something simple, like a claim submitted under the wrong billing code, immediately re-submit the claim with the correct code. For any claims that will require more work, put time on your calendar to do those tasks. If you stay on top of denials and don’t let them pile up, you’ll be less likely to let any denial slide without making the effort to collect what you’re owed for it. 

#2

Track All of Your Claims

Be sure to match your payments to your claims. Insurance companies can make mistakes, including losing claims, marking them as paid when they haven’t been, paying less than a provider’s contracted rate, and more. By tracking the status of your own claims, you are better able to hold insurance companies accountable for your payments. If a claim hasn’t been paid or denied within a reasonable period of time, you will know to call and ask about the status of the claim.

#3

Take a Deep Dive into the Claims Process

Every insurance company negotiates contracts with individual care providers. Your contracts with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Aetna, for example, will likely pay you at different rates for the same services. Ultimately, though, you are responsible for ensuring that you are paid what you are due. 

That’s why it pays to know your contract rates and make sure you are being paid the full rate. If you’re not watchful, an insurance company can underpay in a way that seems insignificant on a case-by-case basis…but can add up to not-insignificant losses over time. 

Medical billing experts often recommend deliberately overbilling to ensure that you collect the maximum possible amount per claim. For example, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota’s contract stipulates that it pays 90 percent of the contracted rate or allowed amount, whichever is less. Overbilling will ensure that you maximize what you are paid.

#4

Digitize Your Entire Billing Process

When it comes to medical billing, leaving a paper trail is vital. Relying on actual paper, though? That’s where things can get complicated. It’s easy to lose paper. It’s even easy to destroy it. If we’ve all learned nothing else from myriad data breaches in the past decade, though, it’s that digital records live forever. When it comes to medical billing, that permanence is (mostly) a good thing. For example, what happens if an insurance company cannot find a claim you submitted? If you submitted it digitally, you can re-submit it on the spot.

The more quickly you act to correct billing issues and claim denials, the less likely you are to run into an insurance company’s timely filing deadline. 

#5

Control the Things You Can Control

When it comes to claim denials, insurance companies are in the driver’s seat most of the time. But there are several things you can do to make the process faster and easier: 

  • Check for changes to your clients’ insurance eligibility or coverage at least once a month. 
  • Confirm your credentialing — and that of your staff, if you are the owner of a practice group — yearly. 
  • Stay current on industry and individual insurance company changes. Billing codes change. When you renew your insurance contracts, some terms may change. Insurance companies might even change their own claims processes. Be sure to sign up to receive any resources — newsletters, emails, or access to online portals, for example — that spell out all the changes you need to know. 
  • If you’ve outsourced your billing, make sure your biller provides 100 percent transparency into their billing process. You are paying for them to be your advocate. You should be able to monitor their systems, ensure that they’re following best practices, and know that they are fighting to get you every penny you’ve earned. 

The Bottom Line

Start using these five secrets today, and you can join an exclusive club of behavioral, mental health, and chemical dependency counselors who run their business like a boss — tracking claim denials, eliminating write-offs, and maximizing your revenue with confidence and ease. 

* Every insurance company and every state Medicare/Medicaid administrator has the right to set its own “timely billing” standards. Those standards can range from 90 to 120 or even to 365 days or more. Challenging denials can be very time consuming. If you put it off, and your denial isn’t resolved by the timely billing deadline, it will automatically become a write-off, no matter how much merit to your challenge. 

Ready to Reduce Your Write-offs?

Schedule a complimentary phone call with our team and we can help you start!

Let’s Talk!

We Promise

To assign one representative to your practice who will listen to you, learn from you, and serve you. 

To pursue payment on every claim denial, writing off that revenue only after we’ve pursued all possible avenues of resolution. 

To act in good faith by charging you only 6 percent of your collected revenues and zero startup costs, assuming a shared financial risk, and providing an additional incentive for us to advocate for your best interests.