PODCAST: Health Insurance Claims Adjudication Explained

MEDICAL CLAIMS ADJUDICATION

By Eric Bricker MD

Claims Adjudication Occurs between a Healthcare Provider Submitting a Claim to a Health Insurance Company and the Insurance Company Making a Payment Back to the Provider.

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ICD-10 is Not an Airplane

It’s Another Part of HIPAA the ADA Won’t Discuss

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

A couple of days following the heads up I posted concerning the imminent upgrade from the tedious ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 that is said to be exponentially more complicated, informatics specialist Tom Sullivan posted a signal to fellow coders nationwide: “7 tactics for making ICD-10 urgent.”

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/blog/7-tactics-making-icd-10-urgent 

If you are fed up with unfunded, non-productive and ineffective mandates like I am, I imagine an alert to coders to create urgency in your practice makes your ear lobes burn bright red as well.

Tedious Administrative Tasks 

According to Sullivan, the ICD-10 presents providers with new requirements for “care management protocols, clinical and financial databases and reports, reimbursement, registries, quality management and research.” These requirements do not promote patients’ best interests. These tedious administrative tasks only enable HIPAA-covered entities to get paid.

ADA

If you are a HIPAA-covered dentist with a voluntary but permanent 10-digit NPI number which is required for ICD-10 compliancy, are you aware if ADA leaders have yet described the ICD-10 coding system any better than they described the NPI number that Delta Dental, BCBSTX, as well as the ADA aggressively promoted years ago?

Who knows? The ICD-10 may not even apply to dentistry. Somewhere deep in the HIPAA Rule, there might be a footnote that says “except in dental practices.”

Department of Dental Informatics

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard rumors about HIPAA’s nasty surprises for dentists. Five years ago this month, “quality” control through dental informatics was enthusiastically but perhaps prematurely revealed to me by an excited spokesman for the ADA Department of Dental Informatics. It was his email that equipped me with everything I needed for this 5 year adventure.

Shortly afterwards, the topic of HIPAA became so poisonous for ADA officials to discuss that the misled leaders who unwittingly signed on to promote digital fantasies in dentistry only rarely appeared in print and never on the internet – leaving the responsibility of informing naïve and trusting ADA members about the downsides of EHRs to those who sell EHRs.

Nevertheless, following three years of official silence about HIPAA from the ADA, in the last 14 months there have been two commentaries published in the JADA which promote quality control in dentistry. The first was written by James Bader DDS and appeared in the December 2009 edition of the JADA titled “Challenges in quality assessment of dental care.”

http://jada.ada.org/cgi/content/full/140/12/1456  

Quality Control 

The second commentary concerning quality control was written by Editor Michael Glick DMD titled ““When good may not be good enough — The need for clinical performance measures in dentistry.” (I’m no longer able to access JADA online).

EBD 

HIT stakeholders Bader and Glick, who are both fervent supporters of Evidence Based Dentistry as well as paperless dental practices, carefully tiptoe around what looks to me like an oppressive, micromanaged future for dentists. They both argue what must be a desperate committee-approved talking point – that quality assessment is critically important for ADA members so that fully-licensed dentists will have digital, Evidence-Based proof that their care is better than dental therapists’ who work for much less money.

Are ADA leaders sitting around a big table in ADA Headquarters when they think up this crap?

In addition, the cloistered committee concludes that patients’ opinions of their dentists is too difficult to collect and less reliable than algorithms based on dental claims and other data provided by the ICD-10 (?).

In fact, Dr. Bader is so confident in Evidence-Based digital results, he dismisses the need for any patient involvement in quality assessment: “Patient satisfaction has been shown to be associated only weakly with other assessments of quality of care, which means that it cannot be used as a surrogate for measures of technical quality.” Try telling that to a formerly satisfied dental patient who suddenly must pick his or her next dentist from a “preferred” provider list of strangers.

Assessment 

You mean like Ingenix’s measures of technical quality, Dr. Bader? In 2008, NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spanked the UnitedHealth subsidiary for selling algorithmic excuses to insurers to be used to cheat out-of-network physicians.

Conclusion

If you are a small business owner who reasonably asks to be paid no more and no less than what one is owed as quickly as possible – if not immediately like all other businesses in the land of the free – I’m pretty sure Sullivan’s 7 pearls intended to make ICD-10 more urgent for doctors will light up the lobes again. And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Off Road Touring in Boston with Dr. Marcinko

How Doctors Get Paid

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Just before the Christmas Holidays, I flew up to Boston at the invitation of a pharmaceutical company to lead a managerial workshop entitled: “How Doctors Get Paid” [Treatment is only the beginning in the Changing Billing and Medical Reimbursement Climate].

Our goal was to inform drug representatives, and their regional managers, what value added information physician offices might expect from the pharmaceutical industry of the future.  

Topics of Discussion

The two hour interactive workshop included team projects, flip chart exercises, a mock role-playing session and the customary [hopefully energetic] ppt presentation. Other topics of discussion included:  

  • Health insurance payment evolution
  • Collapse of Medicare
  • Rise of managed care
  • Medical records documentation
  • ICD-9 and 10, HCPCS, DRGs and CPT® coding
  • ABNs, super-bills and HCFA 150 forms
  • Billing methodologies
  • Healthcare fraud, abuse and related policies
  • Capitation, HSAs, concierge medicine and RACs
  • Futuristic health 2.0 payment mechanisms, and more.

Assessment

Rest assured; these folks were a very knowledgeable and aggressive group; not like your father’s “detail men” of yore! They seek to … talk the talk, and walk the walk, of the Health 2.0 era.

Many thanks again to Helen, and Jon D, for the invite.

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Take the ICD-10 Survey Poll

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ICD-10 Survey Poll

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]

The Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] recently released the final rule for implementing the ICD-10 [International Classification of Diseases] CM [Clinical Modification] and ICD10-PCS [Procedure Coding System] insurance coding initiatives.

Shifting Deadlnes

The compliance deadline was shifted from October 1, 2011; as proposed in the original rule; to October 1, 2013.  And so, how prepared are you for the transition to ICD-10?

Please VOTE:

Understanding Medical Billing Methodologies

The Cash Conversion Cycle

[By Staff Reporters]

Most patients and financial advisors don’t have a clue about how doctor’s get paid in our current system; but it’s not by magic. Yet, a number of different steps occur during the processing of a medical claim that can be seen in a flow chart. Each step in the process can be mapped out and each is subject to claim payment-or-claim rejection. A payment time line for a typical FFS or PPO can also be subjected to a number of variables, depending on different factors including staff competency, time, outside vendors, information management, management decisions in general, or regulatory requirements. The total transit times may take weeks for electronic claims or up to two-years for some paper based claims.

First Make the Diagnosis

• ICD-9 alpha numeric code for disease classes, not billing.

• HHS offers ICD-9 [CM] for MDs and facilities.

• WHO-1900, updated every 3-10 years, e-ICD-10 [2013].

• Diagnostic Statistical Manual Mental Disorders, 4th Edition [DSM-IV].

Then Select the Current Procedure Terminology® Code

Medical, surgical and diagnostic task & service billing code numbers [5-digit] of AMA used by payers:

• Thousands updated annually

• Secretive with registered mark ®

• Office Visits: [brief, inter, extended, etc]

• # 99214 physical exam

• # 90658 H1N1 flu shot

• # 12002 one-inch laceration suture

• CDT® and HCPCS codes, too!

Document the Visit in Patient Progress Notes

Subjective:

“I was gardening and noticed my wrist was swollen and itched like crazy”

Objective:

A 4 inch linear red rash with circular oozing papules and swollen skin is present. Patient is wearing a small tennis bracelet which was tight.

Assessment:

Rule out rues dermatitidis versus nickel allergy.

Plan:

Soap soaks, with OTC calamine lotion with Rx oral diphenhydramine or [benadryl].

Submit the “Super Bill”

Not a “big bill” or expensive medical invoice; just an invoice

• Official standard billing form used by doctors submitting MC/MD claims.

• Also used by some private insurers and managed care plans.

• Contains patient demographics, diagnostic codes, CPT®, HCPC codes, etc.

• Generic billing form, like the generic HCFA 1500 claim form.

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Conclusion

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Medical Coding and Billing Vocabulary

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Basic HIT Nomenclature and HIPAA

[By Richard J. Mata; MD, MIS, CMP™ [Hon]

For the Health Information Technology [HIT] department of a hospital, clinic or medical practice and its coders, the following medical vocabularies are mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA].

Diseases 

For diseases: the 9th or 10th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Clinical Modification should be used.  ICD9-CM is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics, while ICD-10 is maintained by the World Health Organization.

Procedures

For medical procedures: a combination of ICD-9-CM, Current Procedural Terminology maintained by the American Medical Association, the Current Dental Terminology maintained by the American Dental Association, and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) maintained by CMS, which is also used for medical devices.

Pharmaceuticals

For drugs: these should be coded according to their National Drug Code classification.

Assessment

“A recent change to Medicare policy made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) helps ensure claims processing isn’t delayed when the only missing information on the CMS-1490S form is the provider or supplier’s National Provider Identifier (NPI).

CMS Transmittal 1747, Change Request 6434, issued May 22, notifies A/B Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) and carriers of editorial changes to Medicare policy in Pub. 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing Manual, chapter 1 regarding the monitoring of claims submission violations and the handling of incomplete or invalid claims.

In either case, as stated in the transmittal, “If the beneficiary furnishes all other information but fails to supply the provider or supplier’s NPI, the contractor shall not return the claim but rather look up the provider or supplier’s NPI using the NPI registry.”

http://www.aapc.com/news/index.php/2009/06/missing-npi-no-reason-to-deny-says-cms/

Conclusion

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Why Coding Professionals?

More on the NPI, the AAPC, Censorship and Quality Health Care

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

pruittFor those who have been following me recently on Twitter (Proots), you know that unlike me, John Hamm has not yet been kicked off of DrBicuspid, and is awaiting a response from Dr. David J. Pettigrew – a dental coding expert with 14 years of experience as Chief Dental Officer for BCBS of New Jersey. I can only shadow the conversation because, as I said, I was kicked off.

Through John Hamm, I sent word to Dr. Pettigrew that he should just shut up and not enter into a discussion about the NPI number. Pettigrew told Johnhamm that I should come onto the DrBicuspid forum and say that in front of everyone. Of course, I am unable to do that because as shameful as it is to my family, I am still banned from posting anything on DrBicuspid.

For real-time developments concerning Dr. Pettigrew’s public defense of the NPI number, it would be better to follow that chunk of drama on Twitter or DrBicuspid. I’ve got other things cooking here. Can you smell it yet?

As you can see, sports fans, I have had Internet contact with a new class of fat, slow-moving healthcare IT stakeholders, and I haven’t been building long-term relationships fortified by good will – if you know what I mean. 14 years of employment at BCBS of New Jersey fails to impress me much.

American Academy of Professional Coders

Those who have studied alphanumeric science have a national organization called the American Academy of Professional Coders [AAPC] which represents business consultants in a growing healthcare niche. Most are employed by providers who are too busy actually performing healthcare to play games with insurance companies for the money owed them. Like SEO professionals who know gimmicks to increase a client’s page rank in relation to competitors, or perhaps a bolus of bad news from a special bastard, professional coders maximize providers’ profits by keeping on top of the ever-changing hoops involved in paying doctors almost all that is owed them following a shorter than average delay.

ICD-10 is Coming 

Learning coding is job security these days because in a few years the mandated ICD-10 codes will force even dental offices to hire IT staff, which also cuts down on the nation’s unemployment. I’ve taken a peek at the ICD-10, and it makes the ICD-9 look like simple algebra. I’d stick with well-trained coding professionals. They’ll cost more but you do want to approach making a profit, don’t you?

Of Censorship

I submitted the following stinker to be posted on the AAPC Website. To their credit, it was posted almost immediately. That could be a good sign … OOPS! Several minutes later it went back under moderation. I think someone is having problems with it. You’ll have to read it to understand why. It’s tricky to let go of, yet if it remains posted, it looks like a concession. Some poor slob in the AAPC is in a bad position. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.

-Darrell

“A recent change to Medicare policy made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) helps ensure claims processing isn’t delayed when the only missing information on the CMS-1490S form is the provider or supplier’s National Provider Identifier (NPI).

CMS Transmittal 1747, Change Request 6434, issued May 22, notifies A/B Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) and carriers of editorial changes to Medicare policy in Pub. 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing Manual, chapter 1 regarding the monitoring of claims submission violations and the handling of incomplete or invalid claims.

In either case, as stated in the transmittal, “If the beneficiary furnishes all other information but fails to supply the provider or supplier’s NPI, the contractor shall not return the claim but rather look up the provider or supplier’s NPI using the NPI registry.”

http://www.aapc.com/news/index.php/2009/06/missing-npi-no-reason-to-deny-says-cms/

“How does an NPI number improve patient care?”

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS – posted on AAPC Website, 6.4.09

Boxing Gloves I see that nobody from the American Academy of Professional Coders has yet attempted to answer my question. Some visitors to the AAPC Website who have followed the comments to the article “Missing NPI Won’t Delay Processing – CMS” (no byline) may think the lack of an answer is odd – that is if they happen to notice. The novice professional coder who still does not know much about HIPAA could easily assume that since the article itself is almost a week old, the lack of a response to my question is nothing more than the natural fading of interest. At some point, people logically move on to newer posts and other parts of their lives.

But I know a secret.

Based on nothing more than glaring silence from anonymous officials of AAPC, I know that my question of whether the NPI number improves care did not go unnoticed by a few knowledgeable and sharp individuals. They know enough not to touch a transparently trick question. The answer of course is:

The NPI number does nothing to improve patient care (Gasp!)

There’s more. Five years ago informatics experts (coders), promised that the ten digit identification number for providers will speed payments lightning fast. When is the last time you heard that fib? I cannot fault abundant optimism, AAPC, but by now you are surely aware that physicians have had to wait for a year or more for payment because of foul-ups at NPPES. Some have had to take out loans to pay the salaries of coding professionals and other new IT members of their staffs.

Improving Healthcare?

And as far as “improving” patient care? That would be worse than a fib. That would be called a harmful lie that upsets me in a very personal way. I know where it is documented that dental patients have been forced to leave dentists they preferred simply because one-third of the dentists in Texas do not have NPI numbers. BCBSTX requires that their clients only see dentists who have the numbers. Otherwise, the client has to pay their dental bill in full and BCBSTX isn’t even obligated to refund the employer the insurance premium. Yet BCBSTX sales reps tell these employers that their employees can see any Texas dentist they choose.

I’m sorry. Sometimes I ramble.

To keep it fair, I will ask if there is anyone who would like to point out the benefits of the NPI number. Your AAPC members and many others, including enthusiastic newbie coders, are interested in hearing from leaders of the organization. Many careers are built upon the complexities caused by digitalization and informatics. I don’t blame you for the complications. After all, you don’t make the rules – you just get along with them really well. It’s like our unavoidably complicated tax code and accountants. Accountants call themselves professionals. So why the hell shouldn’t you?

The Medical Executive-Post

Let me say that I am grateful that you believe enough in transparency that this comment remains posted. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone briefly considered deleting it until they discovered that it will be on the PennWell forum and probably on the Medical Executive-Post anyway. And of course, we can all see that you chose the honorable thing to do.

NPI Fallacy

The NPI fallacy reminds me of a scene in the Mike Judge movie “Idiocracy,” when a character 500 years in the future named Frito is asked why fields are fruitlessly irrigated with a politically-correct brand of green colored sports drink instead of water. Frito, who got his law degree from Costco, doesn’t even have to suffer minimal thought before he quickly repeats what he’s heard so many times, “’Cause it’s got ‘lectrolytes.”

Grnerod finds it incredible that I don’t have an NPI number. “How on earth are you billing and getting paid without an NPI?”

I told him (?) that I don’t work if I don’t get paid. Call me an old school radical.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What are your feelings on the NPI situation? Does it really improve health care, or not? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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More about Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies]

Our Print-Journal Preface

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™hetico1

As Managing Editor of a two volume – 1,200 pages – premium quarterly print journal, I am often asked about our Preface.

A Two-Volume Guide

As so, our hope is that Healthcare Organizations: [Financial Management Strategies] will shape the hospital management landscape by following three important principles.

What it is – How it works

1. First, we have assembled a world-class editorial advisory board and independent team of contributors and asked them to draw on their experience in economic thought leadership and managerial decision making in the healthcare industrial complex. Like many readers, each struggles mightily with the decreasing revenues, increasing costs, and high consumer expectations in today’s competitive healthcare marketplace. Yet, their practical experience and applied operating vision is a source of objective information, informed opinion, and crucial information for this manual and its quarterly updates.

2. Second, our writing style allows us to condense a great deal of information into each quarterly issue.  We integrate prose, applications and regulatory perspectives with real-world case models, as well as charts, tables, diagrams, sample contracts, and checklists.  The result is a comprehensive oeuvre of financial management and operation strategies, vital to all healthcare facility administrators, comptrollers, physician-executives, and consulting business advisors.

3. Third, as editors, we prefer engaged readers who demand compelling content. According to conventional wisdom, printed manuals like this one should be a relic of the past, from an era before instant messaging and high-speed connectivity. Our experience shows just the opposite.  Applied healthcare economics and management literature has grown exponentially in the past decade and the plethora of Internet information makes updates that sort through the clutter and provide strategic analysis all the more valuable. Oh, it should provide some personality and wit, too! Don’t forget, beneath the spreadsheets, profit and loss statements, and financial models are patients, colleagues and investors who depend on you.ho-journal9

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Assessment

Rest assured, Healthcare Organizations: [Financial Management Strategies] will become an important peer-reviewed vehicle for the advancement of working knowledge and the dissemination of research information and best practices in our field. In the years ahead, we trust these principles will enhance utility and add value to your subscription. Most importantly, we hope to increase your return on investment [ROI] in some small increment.

Visit and Order Now

Specialty Technical Publishers

8 – 14th Street

Blaine, WA 98230

1-800-251-0381

orders@stpub.com

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TOC: http://www.stpub.com/pdfs/toc_ho.pdf

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post, complimentary e-companion are appreciated. If you would like to contribute material or suggest topics for a future update, please contact me. Subscribers, have we attained our goals and objectives, as a work-in-progress in this preface statement?

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ICD-10 Deadline Delay Achieved

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Two-Year Postponement Announced

[By Staff Reporters]

The Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] just released the final rule for implementing the ICD-10 [International Classification of Diseases] CM [Clinical Modification] and ICD10-PCS [Procedure Coding System] insurance coding initiatives.

The Delay

The compliance deadline was shifted from October 1, 2011; as proposed in the original rule; to October 1, 2013.

What it is?

The ICD provides codes to classify diseases and a wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances and external causes of injury or disease. Every health condition can be assigned to a unique category and given a code, up to six characters long. Such categories can include a set of similar diseases.

Assessment

The proposed rule was issued last August and presented for public comments.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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