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Medical Billing: 12 Tips to Know as a Patient & Healthcare Provider

Medical Billing: 12 Tips to Know as a Patient & Healthcare ProviderIf you’ve ever received medical care or worked in the healthcare industry, you’ve more than likely encountered the complex world of medical billing.

While hospital bills may seem confusing, once you grasp the essentials, you’ll be able to handle them with confidence.

Whether you’re a patient trying to understand those confusing bills or a healthcare provider looking to streamline the billing process, it’s essential to understand the basics. That’s exactly what I intend to do in this article – by breaking down how medical billing works into simple steps, we want to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the essentials of medical billing, covering aspects that you should know from both perspectives.

I’m writing this article because I’m a bestselling wellness author and research geek – and author of the longevity book “Life is Long.”  So I put together this quick guide with tips to know as a patient and healthcare provider when it comes to medical billing.

Key Tips for the Medical Billing Process

To help you understand the medical billing process in detail, we’ve broken it down into easy-to-follow steps, which are different for patients and healthcare providers.

6 Tips For Patients

First things first, what is medical billing, and how does it work?

Medical billing is when healthcare providers send and follow up on claims with insurance companies to receive payment for the services provided to patients. It’s a lengthy process that involves various steps, from verifying insurance eligibility to submitting claims and processing payments.

1. Registration and Verification:

When you arrive at a healthcare facility, you’ll be asked to provide personal and insurance information. This data is vital for the billing process, so always double-check the information you provide to prevent billing errors down the line. Also, before you get any medical service, ensure that your insurance coverage is valid and accepted by the healthcare provider to prevent unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

2. Coding:

Behind the scenes, healthcare providers use a system of medical codes to describe your medical diagnosis, treatment, and services rendered. The most common code sets are CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) and ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition).

3. Claim Submission:

After your visit, your provider will submit a claim to your insurance company, detailing the services provided and the associated costs.

4. Adjudication:

Once the insurance company receives the claim, they review it to determine coverage and calculate the amount they’ll pay. During this stage, the insurer reviews the claim for accuracy, verifies your coverage, and calculates the portion they will pay. Then, they send an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) to both you and your healthcare provider, detailing what they will cover and any remaining balance due from you.

5. Patient Responsibility:

After the insurance company processes your claim, you will receive an EOB that outlines your financial responsibility. It’s essential to carefully review your EOB to ensure it aligns with the services you received. If you have questions or believe there is an error, feel free to contact your healthcare provider or insurer for clarification.

6. Payment:

Once you’ve received your EOB and clarified any discrepancies, it’s time to settle your bill. You can make payments directly to your provider or the billing agency they use. Many providers offer payment plans or financial assistance options if you’re facing financial hardship, so don’t hesitate to inquire about these programs if you need help managing your bills.

6 Tips For Healthcare Providers

1. Accurate Documentation and Coding:

From the healthcare perspective, the medical billing process starts with accurate documentation of patient encounters. Thorough and precise notes are essential for proper coding. Providers should use the appropriate CPT and ICD-10 codes to describe services provided, diagnoses, and procedures. This step is crucial because it directly affects reimbursement.

2. Verification of Patient Information:

Before providing services, it’s important to verify patient insurance information to avoid billing complications later on. It’s best to establish a clear procedure for this verification process so you can follow it each time.

3. Timely Claim Submission:

Once the patient visit is documented and coded correctly, the next step is to generate a claim. This claim includes patient information, service details, and coding information. It’s best to submit claims promptly to reduce delays in reimbursement.

4. Adjudication and Denials Management:

After claim submission, you should track the progress of claims. Insurance companies review claims for accuracy and compliance with their policies, so some claims may be denied due to errors or lack of necessary information. It’s crucial to have a system in place to manage denials efficiently, including appealing denied claims when appropriate.

5. Patient Billing and Communication:

Once insurance adjudication is complete, providers should communicate the patient’s financial responsibility through EOBs and bills. Effective communication is essential, as it helps prevent confusion and ensures timely payment.

6. Payment Posting and Reconciliation:

When payments are received from insurance companies and patients, providers must accurately post these payments to the patient’s account. Payment posting and reconciliation help ensure that all outstanding balances are up to date.

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