What Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know! Friday, Oct 26 2012 

Finally! A long awaited and much anticipated book about ERISA by two well-respected leaders in the health care industry! This book will provide the secrets in getting claims paid, how to fight denials, and halt recoupments using the features within the ERISA regulations.

This is a must buy! Quite frankly, this is important even if you are a layperson covered under your employer’s group health plan! These are the secrets that your insurance company doesn’t want you or your doctor’s office to know!

Book Description

Publication Date: October 15, 2012
New book helps medical practices use the secrets within the ERISA regulations to their benefit to increase practice profitability The Medical Practice Guide to ERISA: Employee Retirement Income Security Act The Federal law ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) helps the majority of medical practices make carriers pay on claims that are now being denied, delayed and recouped. Only a small percentage of practices understand how ERISA works — yet with this new book, ERISA could possibly become a practice’s best friend! ERISA is complex and most medical practices, “Don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to dealing with ERISA!” Practices are in the dark in understanding how to protect their employer’s rights in collecting the monies owed them. ERISA regulates the practice s health benefits, health benefit payments, EOBs, and most importantly, appeal rights Using this book will allow the reader to not only capture the funds on thousands of dollars that the carriers are now unfairly denying, but will empower the reader to stop the unfair recoupments, illegal timely filing and improper appeal periods that carriers mistakenly quote to physicians and hospital offices. The authors map out the smart but ingeniously simple tactics that practices can use to force insurance carriers to honor their responsibilities on the policies owned by patients — and to convince the carriers to adhere to what the policies actually require them to cover. Providing an overview of the ERISA law, the Self/Verno book provides tips, tools and techniques to leverage ERISA for practice advantage. They take a close look at real-world ERISA situations, violations and outcomes. Armed with this roadmap, physicians and executive staff can better put their resources to work– leveraging ERISA to improve practice profitability. Noteworthy Features Clear Roadmap Written in layman’s terms so practice leaders can immediately begin to implement a strategy of getting claims paid, how to fight denials and halt recoupments. Practical Guidance Includes real world examples and case studies of how medical practices can use the ERISA rules to work for them. Also included is practical information on how to use the ERISA website and answers to the most frequently asked questions about ERISA. Templates to Get You Started Sample letters (describing exact situations and how they can be handled) will get you started and help your practice take control of the process. Selected Table of Contents Healthcare Basics Definitions Laws Employee Benefits Security Administration: Frequently Asked Questions about ERISA Using ERISA Claims Issues Sample Letters – Timely Filing Denial Response, Refund Demand Layperson Response, Unpaid Claims Letter, Incorrectly Paid Claims Letter, Bundling Denial Letter, Down Coding Letter, Payment to Patient Letter Additional Resources – Helpful Websites, Layperson Documents Authorized Representation, Assignment of Benefit Form

You can purchase through Amazon by clicking on this link:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Medical-Practice-Guide-ERISA/dp/0988304007/ref=pd_rhf_cr_p_t_1

Advertisements

ICD-10-CM implementation date is October 1, 2014 Saturday, Sep 1 2012 

The final rule setting the ICD-10-CM implementation date as October 1, 2014 was released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on August 24, 2012.

HHS PROPOSES ONE-YEAR DELAY OF ICD-10 COMPLIANCE DATE Monday, Apr 9 2012 

For Immediate Release: Monday, April 09, 2012
Contact: CMS Office of Public Affairs
202-690-6145

HHS PROPOSES ONE-YEAR DELAY OF ICD-10 COMPLIANCE DATE

(CMS-0040-P)

Action

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced a proposed rule that would delay, from October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2014, the compliance date for the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition diagnosis and   procedure codes (ICD-10).

The ICD-10 compliance date change is part of a proposed rule that would adopt a standard for a unique health plan identifier (HPID), adopt a data element that would serve as an “other entity” identifier (OEID), and add a National Provider Identifier (NPI) requirement.   The proposed rule was developed by the Office of E-Health Standards and Services (OESS) as part of its ongoing role, delegated by HHS, to establish adopt standards for electronic health care transactions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).   OESS is part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Background

On January 16, 2009, HHS published a final rule to adopt ICD-10 as the HIPAA standard code sets to replace the previously adopted ICD–9–codes for diagnosis and procedure codes (see HIPAA Administrative Simplification;  Modifications to Medical Data Code Set Standards to Adopt ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS,  74 FR 3328). The compliance date set by the final rule was October 1, 2013.

Implementation of ICD-10 will accommodate new procedures and diagnoses unaccounted for in the ICD-9 code set and allow for greater specificity of diagnosis-related groups and preventive services.  This transition will lead to improved accuracy in reimbursement for medical services, fraud detection, and historical claims and diagnoses analysis for the health care system.  Many researchers have published articles on the far-reaching positive effects of ICD-10 on quality issues, including use of specific reasons for patient non-compliance and detailed procedure information by degree of difficulty, among other benefits.

Some provider groups have expressed serious concerns about their ability to meet the October 1, 2013 compliance date.   Their concerns about the ICD-10 compliance date are based, in part, on implementation issues they have experienced meeting HHS’ compliance deadline for the Associated Standard Committee’s (ASC) X12 Version 5010 standards (Version 5010) for electronic health care transactions.  Compliance with Version 5010 is necessary prior to implementation of ICD-10.

All covered entities must transition to ICD-10 at the same time to ensure a smooth transition to the updated medical data code sets.   Failure of any one industry segment to achieve compliance with ICD-10 would negatively impact all other industry segments and result in rejected claims and provider payment delays.   HHS believes the change in the compliance date for ICD-10, as proposed in this rule, would give providers and other covered entities more time to prepare and fully test their systems to ensure a smooth and coordinated transition among all industry segments.

Provisions of the proposed rule announced today

HHS is proposing to change the ICD-10 compliance date to October 1, 2014.

As stated, the ICD-10 compliance date change is part of a proposed rule that would adopt a standard for a unique health plan identifier (HPID), adopt a data element that would serve as an “other entity” identifier (OEID), and add a National Provider Identifier (NPI) requirement.

Standards compliance date

HHS proposes that covered entities must be in compliance with ICD-10 on October 1, 2014.

The proposed rule, CMS-0040-P, may be viewed at www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx.

A news release on the proposed rule may be viewed at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

#  #  #  #  #

I’d rather buy a month’s worth of Starbucks than…pay my doctor bill Wednesday, Jul 6 2011 

One of the biggest frustrations we have in the health care industry is due to patients not understanding their own health insurance benefits. Oftentimes, patients think that just because they carry insurance, that means that everything is covered and they don’t have to pay anything. Patients receive health care service and a month later they discover that their insurance doesn’t cover that particular service; however, instead of accepting the responsibility of paying, many patients fight, demand, and threaten the physician’s office staff to make the balance go away.

This phenomenon has gotten worse in the past twenty years or so. I subscribe to the theory that much of this mentality is due to the inception of HMO’s. In the beginning, HMO’s had either zero patient financial responsibility, or an exceptionally low out-of-pocket cost. People have been conditioned in thinking that health care is an entitlement. After about a decade, due to insurance companies (and employer groups) not being able to withstand the expense of higher utilization of “free” health care, they began to make the consumer more responsible by charging higher co-pays and not covering certain services. Unfortunately, most Americans expect the same Cadillac coverage without any additional expense (beyond their insurance premium and co-pay).

A major challenge in physician practices is to help their patient’s understand their insurance company’s reimbursement policies, all the while maintaining good will. Physicians are finding themselves having to develop various financial informed consent forms to assure that the patient understands that they may be responsible for some of the cost. Medicare has required this, in the form of Advanced Beneficiary Notices (ABN), for years.  Even so, we often hear patients state, “I signed it but didn’t read it.”  Or, “I was afraid if I didn’t sign it that I wouldn’t get the service.” Perhaps the days of accountability are long gone.

One of the biggest threats we hear from patients is that they will leave our practice if we don’t write off their balance. Not much that you can do about that. Health care is a business and we cannot pay the bills with altruism. In addition, it is fraud to bill the insurance company for services and write off the patient’s responsibility. Aside from financial hardship cases, routine adjustments of patient responsibility can get a physician excluded and/or fined by the government when it is a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid. Worst case scenario for commercial insurance is the insurance company dropping the physician from their network.

With lower reimbursements, practices really need to devote more energy in collecting all revenues due. The average overhead for a primary care physician practice is reaching 60%. There are no government subsidies for physicians, other than rural health care, community health care centers and native american health centers. More and more physicians are closing their offices, retiring early, selling their practices to hospitals, transitioning to concierge medicine, or going to cash only practices. This is devastating to primary care because of the physician shortage; however, many specialists are also getting hit hard as well.

If it’s not documented… Thursday, Dec 2 2010 

I want to share with you my call recording system in our office. Initially, we had phones that would record, but it was only after someone pushed the record button on the phone and I would never get anything prior to the record button being pushed. In addition, the telephone system’s call recording speaker was very sensitive and if one of my employees sighed, breathed, or there was any other noise on our side of the phone, it would override the speaker and I would only hear our side of the conversation. It was very frustrating!

I have been recording our inbound and outbound telephone calls for over three years now and it is one of the best things I have ever done in my 25 years of practice management! The system I have was developed by OAISYS. They have two products, Tracer and Talkument. Talkument is more basic. I started with Talkument and upraded to Tracer about a year ago!

I did a case study for them because I love their product so much!

http://www.oaisys.com/casestudies/NSFM.aspx

and

http://www.oaisys.com/movies/flash_only/NSFM_Case_Study_flash.html

There is really no Federal Law regarding telephone recordings in this scenario. Each state has their own regulation and can either be “one-party” or “two-party”. One-party states only require one party to know about the telephone call being recorded and that would be the recording party. Two-party states require both parties and that is where you would hear the message that states “all calls are being recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

Arizona is a one-party state. I have my staff and physicians sign a disclaimer that they know that the phones are recorded, just to be on the safe side in my office. I also have a label on all phones reminding people that their conversation is recorded. I am the only person who can access the recordings…the physicians can not even access them!

Here is a website that covers telephone recording laws:

http://www.rcfp.org/taping/.

The OAISYS server is attached to our phone system. It has it’s own IP address, so there is no software to install on your phone system or computer server. I don’t remember how much hard drive space is on the server, but we have not filled the hard drive up yet. I do have another external hard drive attached to the system so when we do fill the drive, it is programmed to have the oldest calls dump into the external hard drive. All phone calls are saved and will be saved permanently, or until we decide to purge. I spoke with our malpractice insurer and they suggested that we retain the calls using the same guidelines as retaining patient medical records.

I am able to log into the server and the calls appear similar to how Outlook is laid out. I can search using various parameters, such as date of call, outside telephone number, office extension, inbound/outbound calls, etc. I can combine those parameters and do a search to drill down even further.

We have had three licensing board complaints and, in all three, I used the voice recordings as evidence…we won all three! All three licensing board complaints were completely dropped! Think about the malpractice savings because these things could have resulted in a malpractice lawsuit as well. This alone has covered the cost of the system over ten-fold!

In addition, I have used the voice recordings to help my staff in understanding that they made a mistake or may have sounded rude on the phone. Oftentimes, I can just let them listen and they discover the problem themselves…makes my job so much easier when they have the buy-in!

I have used it to fight insurance companies. I have used it for the smallest, mundane things, like the front office hanging up without getting a name or phone number of the patient…I go onto Talkument/Tracer and can pull the actual voice recording and re-listen to the person identifying themselves and the phone number shows up on caller ID on the system.

And, how many times, have you had a disgruntled patient who has stated that someone told them something and you know darn well that the person is not sharing the full truth with you? Yes, I have brought patient’s in my office to listen to their own conversation. I have emailed their telephone call to them proving that they made their appointment on a specific date, time and with a specific doctor because they state otherwise.

Bottomline is that I detest being lied to and I hate not knowing who to believe. If it happened on our phone line, I can hear it for myself and make my decisions based on fact! There is no better place to be and that, to me, is priceless.

My physicians and several other key staff, initially, had some trepidation about the system and now they bless the day we got it.  In fact, they wrote recommendation letters themselves sharing their feelings on having this system in our practice:

http://www.oaisys.com/downloads/NSFM_Letters_of_Recommendation.pdf

I seldom put this much passion into another company…OAISYS has won me over from the minute I saw them as a vendor at another conference I attended. I have had many dealings with OAISYS and they are a top notch company…if I ever think of ending this healthcare gig, I would be on their doorstep asking them to hire me! They use a third-party to do the installation, for us it was Sonoran Integrations, and they were excellent as well.

Oh, and another thing that we use it for, that may be of specific interest to those of you in Pediatrics:  Arizona has really strict laws regarding caring for minors and parental consent. As we all know, there are those parents that will drop their toddler off at one end of the block and expect him to get to the office, sign in and make informed medical decisions and pay their copay in Cheerios. Okay, maybe I am embellishing a little bit, but we all know that parents will drop off their teenagers and we cannot see them because we do not have parental consent.  With Talkument, I have the ability to record the parent’s consent and note in the chart that it was given and recorded (a verbal is okay, but I hate to have that “he said/she said” thing in a court of law!).

RED FLAGS RULE: Resources available Saturday, Oct 3 2009 

The Red Flags Rule became effective November 1, 2008; however, the actual enforcement date has been delayed several times resulting in the current enforcement date of November 1, 2009.  Several professional organizations are “negotiating” with the Federal government in the attempt of trying to exempt physicians in the definition of “creditors”.  The Federal Trade Commission states that the extra grace period is “to give creditors and financial institutions more time to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs.”   Penalties for not complying with the Red Flags Rule are $3,500 per incident under Fair Credit Reporting.

The information provided below has been developed for small businesses who are considred “low-risk” to comply with the Red Flags  Rule.  The following is an excerpt from the Federal Trade Commission website:

COMPLYING WITH THE RED FLAGS RULE:

Do-It-Yourself Program for Businesses at Low Risk For Identity Theft

The Red Flags Rule requires many businesses and organizations to implement a written Identity Theft Prevention Program to detect the warning signs – or “red flags” – of identity theft. By identifying red flags, you’ll be in a better position to spot an imposter trying to defraud you by using someone else’s identity to get products and services.

As a practical matter, most businesses and organizations that provide products and services to their customers and then bill them later are covered by the Rule. To find out if the Rule applies to you, read Fighting Fraud with the Red Flags Rule: A How-To Guide for Business.

The Red Flags Rule gives you the flexibility to design an Identity Theft Prevention Program appropriate for your business, given its size and potential risk for identity theft. While some companies need a comprehensive Program, businesses and organizations at low risk for identity theft may find that a streamlined Program fits the bill. If you’re at low risk for identity theft, this do-it-yourself Program may be sufficient.  http://www2.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/redflagsrule/get-started.shtm

This streamlined program seems to be the easiest and most straightforward way to implement the RFR policy in most physician’s practices.

Some helpful resources provided by professional organizations are as follows:

American Medical Association (AMA) http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/no-index/physician-resources/red-flags-rule.shtml .

Medical Group Manager’s Association (MGMA) RFR Resource Center at http://www.mgma.com/policy/default.aspx?id=22932 .

Modern Medicine article: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/memag/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=592249&sk=67a9e20fc29c2e9eeddb4f43bc9d04ff

Federal Register, November 9, 2007:  “Interagency Guidelines on Identity Theft Detection, Prevention, and Mitigation” http://ftc.gov/os/fedreg/2007/november/071109redflags.pdf