There are two types of write-offs in medical billing: necessary and unnecessary. Necessary write-offs include contractual obligations, small balance write offs and cash-pay discounts. Unnecessary write-offs occur when billing/administrative mistakes lead to uncollectable money being left on the table. Practice owners and managers who can identify unnecessary write-offs and implement processes to eliminate them can improve the health of the accounts receivable and increase revenue.
Timely Filing Limit
A timely filing limit is the number of days a claim can be submitted after the date of service. Billers who are responsible for submitting claims must know the timely filing limits for each insurance company billed. Timely filing policies can be found online in the insurance company’s provider manual.
Timely filing denials are rarely overturned unless the biller can prove that the claim was submitted before the limit. Before writing off the balance, billers must double-check that there is no possibility to appeal the timely filing denial. Timely filing write-offs are highly preventable with the right people and billing processes in place.
Write-offs may be approved by managers due to a mistake made by the administrative staff. These write-offs include telling a patient the practice is in-network with their insurance only to discover the group is out-of-network (OON), not obtaining authorization prior to the patient’s visit, or data-entry errors.
Practice owners and managers should meet with their billing and admin teams at least once a month to discuss write-offs. The billing staff can identify trends and bring them to the attention of the front desk so processes can be implemented to prevent further mistakes. This communication is vital to the success of the practice.
Every treating provider in the practice should be credentialed with all of the in-network insurance companies. When a patient receives treatment from an non-credentialed provider, the claims will get denied or process OON leaving the patient with greater out-of-pocket expenses. This mistake can be avoided by having experts manage the new employee’s credentialing and having an in-network provider co-sign the OON providers notes while the application is still processing. Keep in mind that some insurance companies, such as Medicare, do not accept co-signed notes. Avoid these unnecessary write-offs by scheduling patients with providers who are in-network.
Write-offs are part of owning a medical practice. As much as we wish they could be eliminated completely, that is not a realistic expectation. Practice owners and managers do have the power to reduce unnecessary write offs by educating their staff and implementing proven processes at each stage of the revenue cycle. If you believe your practice is leaving money on the table, sign up for a billing assessment here or learn more about our billing services at accountmattersma.com