Working with your patients’ insurance companies to get paid for your services can be a minefield. With what seems like ever decreasing reimbursement rates, slow payment turnaround times and vanishing remittances, it can often feel like more hassle than it’s worth.
But with 13% of the UK population covered by a Private Medical Insurance Scheme and a whopping 53% of the UK population admitting they would pay for private healthcare treatment, working with insurers is certainly here to stay. And after the fall out from Covid 19 these past couple of years, private healthcare is becoming even more necessary for some patients.
So how do you make your billing life easier and what are the most effective ways to work with insurance companies, not against them?
Take a look at our top five tips on how best to streamline your insurance billing process, which can lead to an increase in income and decrease in payment turnaround time:
1. Prompt and accurate invoicing
The best place to start is with your billing process. While it may seem obvious, it is vital that you submit your invoices to insurance companies in a timely manner. Certain insurers even specify a window of time in which an invoice must be submitted to them. Submitting your invoice outside of this timeframe will mean your invoice is essentially void and payment will not be made, resulting in an unhappy patient and a potentially unpaid debt.
Similarly, always ensure you include correct and relevant information on each invoice. This includes full patient demographics and correct CCSD coding. It is also extremely important to include the patient’s current and valid insurer membership number and appropriate authorisation code. Including this information will dramatically increase both the likelihood of payment without query and timeliness of payment.
2. Utilise Healthcode
For some time, electronic invoicing via Healthcode has been the most secure and efficient way to submit invoices to insurance companies. Through its 'claims scrubbing' process it checks for the correct use of codes and formats, preventing time-consuming and costly processing errors that could delay the reimbursement process. Its effectiveness means only invoices holding accurate information on a patient can be submitted which, in turn, ensures minimal invoice queries and a fast payment turnaround time.
They are completely paperless and GDPR compliant. Insurer remittances can also be retrieved electronically via Healthcode which promotes a seamless way of working. Furthermore, Healthcode is integrated with most mainstream practice management systems which means an invoice is simply submitted to an insurer at the touch of a button, saving valuable time!
Overall, it can help improve your cash flow and save considerable time and money from an admin perspective.
3. Online insurance portals
In many cases, calling an insurer is necessary when you have a query on an invoice, however, when your time is pressed already, waiting on hold to get through is incredibly frustrating (and wait times seem to be getting longer!).
However, most mainstream insurers will now have an interactive online portal which manages a variety of processes from queries, to submitting additional documentation and retrieving remittances. To make things more efficient, utilise these portals whenever possible – quite often you will receive a quicker response and are able query more invoices at one time, which is useful for a busy practice.
4. Keep your Private Practice Register (PPR) up to date
Although the portal is known to be a little tricky to manoeuvre around, the PPR is a vital tool when it comes to keeping the major insurers updated on all aspects linked to your private practice. This can include banking details, remittance address details and practicing rights to name a few.
Once information on the PPR is updated, this will feed through to the major insurers meaning less manual work updating each individual insurer and quicker updates. Keeping your PPR up to date has the potential to maximise your earnings and referrals.
5. Negotiate appropriate rates where necessary
When it comes to being fee assured with insurance companies, you’ll likely think that means low reimbursement rates. However, even if you are fee assured with an insurer, it doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate higher reimbursement rates for certain consultations and procedures. If you provide the appropriate information and present it to the insurer correctly, your request is justified.
Furthermore, it is worth looking at whether being fee assured with a particular insurer is worth the potential additional referrals and vice versa.
Turning insurance repayments to your advantage
With private health insurance costing just over a tenth of the cost of the most popular private healthcare treatments (e.g. orthopaedic and replacement surgeries) and NHS wait times being at a record-breaking high thanks to the pandemic, it is no surprise that health insurance is becoming a more desirable option for patients.
While dealing with insurance companies can sometimes feel like a bit of a headache, having the right processes in place gives you the opportunity to turn this billing task to your advantage. If you’re still struggling for time, you can always work with an external billing partner to help you get on the front foot.
Medical billing partners, such as Bill Medical, will have built strong relationships with insurers over the years and can ensure you’re getting paid as accurately and efficiently as possible. Not only that, we can also negotiate better rates on your behalf and help you identify areas to improve your income overall.
If you’re looking for a way to streamline your billing and work with insurance companies better, feel free to reach out to a member of our team for a quick no-obligation chat.