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    As a former Dean and appointed University Professor and Endowed Department Chair, Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA was a NYSE broker and investment banker for a decade who was respected for his unique perspectives, balanced contrarian thinking and measured judgment to influence key decision makers in strategic education, health economics, finance, investing and public policy management.

    Dr. Marcinko is originally from Loyola University MD, Temple University in Philadelphia and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in PA; as well as Oglethorpe University and Emory University in Georgia, the Atlanta Hospital & Medical Center; Kellogg-Keller Graduate School of Business and Management in Chicago, and the Aachen City University Hospital, Koln-Germany. He became one of the most innovative global thought leaders in medical business entrepreneurship today by leveraging and adding value with strategies to grow revenues and EBITDA while reducing non-essential expenditures and improving dated operational in-efficiencies.

    Professor David Marcinko was a board certified surgical fellow, hospital medical staff President, public and population health advocate, and Chief Executive & Education Officer with more than 425 published papers; 5,150 op-ed pieces and over 135+ domestic / international presentations to his credit; including the top ten [10] biggest drug, DME and pharmaceutical companies and financial services firms in the nation. He is also a best-selling Amazon author with 30 published academic text books in four languages [National Institute of Health, Library of Congress and Library of Medicine].

    Dr. David E. Marcinko is past Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious “Journal of Health Care Finance”, and a former Certified Financial Planner® who was named “Health Economist of the Year” in 2010. He is a Federal and State court approved expert witness featured in hundreds of peer reviewed medical, business, economics trade journals and publications [AMA, ADA, APMA, AAOS, Physicians Practice, Investment Advisor, Physician’s Money Digest and MD News] etc.

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    As a state licensed life, P&C and health insurance agent; and dual SEC registered investment advisor and representative, Marcinko was Founding Dean of the fiduciary and niche focused CERTIFIED MEDICAL PLANNER® chartered professional designation education program; as well as Chief Editor of the three print format HEALTH DICTIONARY SERIES® and online Wiki Project.

    Dr. David E. Marcinko’s professional memberships included: ASHE, AHIMA, ACHE, ACME, ACPE, MGMA, FMMA, FPA and HIMSS. He was a MSFT Beta tester, Google Scholar, “H” Index favorite and one of LinkedIn’s “Top Cited Voices”.

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Have You Ever Worked in the Medical Profession?

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive-Director]

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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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Health Insurance Prospective Payment System [HIPPS] Grouper Software and Documentation Codes

Enter the CMPs

Understanding Home Health Prospective Payment System (HH PPS) Case-Mix Refinement Changes

[By Staff Reporters]

AdvocacyA few operational changes were made to the V-Code Table in the updated version of the ICD-9-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, including:

  • HH PPS grouper software and documentation (effective October 1, 2006): Contains Version 1.06 of the home health PPS case mix grouper software codes, which accommodates changes in OASIS reporting requirements effective 10/1/2006.  Also includes the grouper coding logic (pseudo-code), test records, and demonstration programs.
  • HH Consolidated Billing Master Code List: An Excel workbook file containing complete lists of all codes ever subject to consolidated billing provision of HH PPS.  A master list worksheet shows the dates each code included and excluded from consolidated billing editing on claims, with associated CMS transmittal references.  The master list also associates each code with any related predecessor and successor codes.  Supplemental worksheets show the list of included codes for each CMS transmittal to date.

Example:

The national unadjusted (wage index) per-visit rate payments paid per code were: [a] home health aide $44.37; [b] medical social service $153.55; [c] occupational therapy $105.44; [d] skilled nursing care $95.79 and [e] speech pathology $113.81.

Assessment

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Link: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/homehealthpps/downloads/transitionepisodesqa.pdf

Link: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HomeHealthPPS/downloads/GuidanceforHHAs_Posting_12-18-2007.pdf

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Understanding Deviations in Medical Billing

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Appreciating Normative Comparisons

[By Patricia A. Trites; MPA, CHBC, CPC, CHCC, CHCO ]

tritesDeviation in medical billing can be detected through utilization data that insurance companies produce on all providers that submit a claim for payment of services.

Insurance companies track utilization through a variety of parameters, including CPT codes, ICD-9-CM, or number of referrals. Different programs utilize certain benchmarks to trigger a review.

Example

For example, a physician who sees patients in the office from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., seven days a week and has the highest billing amounts in the region can be subjected to a review. This doctor’s activities would be scrutinized. The utilization review department would probably flag this doctor’s provider number and request more information on a sampling of his or her claims, based on the volume.

Utilization Review

Some utilization review activities may occur due to the type of services that a doctor may offer. For example, if a cardiologist should suddenly start billing for a large number of incision and drainages of abscesses, this might trigger a review, since that might not be a typical scope of service for this doctor in this locality. The same could be said for a pathologist, triggering a review due to the high volume of wound care or ulcer debridement.

Audit Trigger Thresholds Vary

Thresholds vary from locale to locale regarding what triggers an audit. There are consultants who have suggested querying the local carrier for provider specific information regarding utilization activity to compare against community performance. Some Carrier Advisory Committee (CAC) representatives have indicated that this may bring undesirable attention from the Medicare program and trigger an audit. Consult professional associations. and, if possible; local CAC representatives to obtain most current information in your area.

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Financial Ratio Liquidity Analysis for Medical Accounts Receivable

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Understanding Vital Balance Sheet and Income Statement Components

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

By Dr. Gary L. Bode; MSA, CPA, CMP™ [Hon]

Dr. Gary L. Bode CPA MSAFinancial ratios are derived from components of the balance sheet and income statement. These short and long-term financial ratio values are “benchmarked” to values obtained in medical practice management surveys that become industry standards. Often they become de facto economic indicators of entity viability, and should be monitored by all financial executives regularly.

Defining Terms

One of the most useful liquidity ratiosrelated to ARs is the current ratio. It is mathematically defined as: current assets/current liabilities. The current ratio is important since it measures short-term solvency, or the daily bill-paying ability of a medical practice, clinic  or hospital; etc.  Current assets include cash on hand (COH), and cash in checking accounts, money market accounts, money market deposit accounts, US Treasury bills, inventory, pre-paid expenses, and the percentage of ARs that can be reasonably expected to be collected. Current liabilitiesare notes payable within one year. This ratio should be at least 1, or preferably in the range of about 1.2 to 1.8 for medical practices.

Other Ratios

The quick ratiois similar to the current ratio. However, unlike the current ratio, the quick ratio does not include money tied up in inventory, since rapid conversion to cash might not be possible in an economic emergency. A reasonable quick ratio would be 1.0 – 1.3 for a hospital, since this ratio is a more stringent indicator of liquidity than the current ratio.

Assessment

A point of emphasis in the case of both the current ratio and the quick ratio is that higher is not necessarily better. Higher ratios denote a greater capacity to pay bills as they come due, but they also indicate that the entity has more cash tied up in assets that have a relatively low rate of earnings. Hence, there is an optimum range for both ratios: they should be neither too low nor too high.

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The Need to Protect Accounts Receivable [ARs]

Understanding Liability and Stewardship Issues

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

By Dr. Gary L. Bode; MSA, CPA, CMP™

HOFMSAll hospitals, clinics, healthcare entities and doctors are aware that accounts receivable (ARs) represent money that is owed to them, usually by a patient, insurance company, health maintenance organization (HMO), Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party payer. In the reimbursement climate that exists today, it is not unusual for ARs to represent 75% of a hospital’s investments in current assets. ARs are a major source of cash flow, and cash flow is the life-blood of any healthcare entity. It pays bills, meets office payroll, and satisfies operational obligations.

Medical ARS are Different

A feature of ARs in healthcare organizations that differentiates them from ARs in other types of business is that they are often settled for less than the billed amounts. These allowances include four categories that are used to restate ARs to realizable expected values:

  • professional or courtesy allowances;
  • charity (pro bono care) allowances;
  • doubtful account allowances; and
  • HMO and managed care organization (MCO) contractual and prospective payment allowances.

AR Stewardship Issues

Good stewardship of assets requires that one must be concerned not only with significant economic losses due to professional conduct (professional malpractice liability concerns, and issues raised by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and so on); but that of physician partner(s) and even the financial failure of contracted private insurers, payers, MCOs, HMOs, etc. ARs are often the biggest asset to protect against creditors or adverse legal judgments. It is not unusual to have ARs in the range of a hundred thousand dollars for a group practice or medical clinic; and in the millions of dollars for a hospital. Yet, since they can easily be attached, ARs are known as exposed assets to creditors.

Assessment

A judgment creditor pursuing a doctor for a claim may pursue the assets of the clinic, and ARs and cash are the most vulnerable assets. ARs are as good as cash to a creditor, who usually has to do no more than seize them and wait a few months to collect them. If a creditor seizes ARs, the clinic or health entity may be hard pressed to pay its bills as they become due. One must therefore be vigilant to protect AR assets from lawsuit creditors.

More: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

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Proactive Medical Accounts Receivable Monitoring

Forewarned is Forearmed

Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA CMP™

By Dr. Gary L. Bode; MSA, CPA, CMP™

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

All hospitals, medical clinics, healthcare entities, and doctors are aware that accounts receivable (ARs) represent money that is owed to them, usually by a patient, insurance company, health maintenance organization (HMO), Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party payor. In the reimbursement climate that exists today, it is not unusual for ARs to represent 75% of a hospital’s investments in current assets. And, a medical practice may have ARs in the range of several hundred thousand dollars. ARs are a major source of cash flow, and cash flow is the life-blood of any healthcare entity. It pays bills, meets office payroll, and satisfies operational obligations.

Avoidance Management

The best way to manage AR problems is to avoid them in the first place by implementing a good system of AR control. Answering the following questions may help upgrade a system of AR control:

  • Is an AR policy in place for the collection of self-pay accounts (de minimus and maximus amounts, annual percentage rate (APR), terms, penalties, etc.)?
  • Do employees receive proper AR, bad debt, and follow-up training within legal guidelines?
  • Are AR exceptions approved by the doctor, office manager, or accounting department, or require individual scrutiny?
  • Are AR policies in place for dealing with hardship cases, pro bono work, co-pay waivers, discounts, or no-charges?
  • Are collection procedures within legal guidelines?
  • Are AR policies in place for dealing with past due notices, telephone calls, dunning messages, collection agencies, small claims court, and other collection methods?
  • Are guidelines in place for handling hospital, clinic, or medical practice consultations, unpaid claims, refilling of claims, and appealing claims?
  • Are office AR policies periodically revised and reviewed, with employee input?
  • Does the doctor, hospital, or clinic agree with and support the guidelines?

Assessment

It is  typical that poor control occurs because the doctor and/or hospital is too busy treating patients, or the front office or administrative staff does not have, or follow a good system of AR control.

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Medical Accounts Receivable and Related Formulae

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Understanding Rationale and Formulae

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]

[By Dr. Gary L. Bode; CPA, MSA, CMP™]

HO-JFMS-CD-ROMMedical practices, clinics and hospitals generate a patient account or an account receivable (AR) at the same time as they send the patient a bill or the insurance company a claim. ARs are treated as current assets (cash equivalents) on the healthcare entity balance sheet, and usually with a percentage mark-down to reflect historic collection rates.

The Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a snapshot of a medical practice or healthcare entity at a specific point in time. This contrasts with the income statement (profit and loss), which shows accounting data across a period of time. The balance sheet uses the accounting formula:

Assets (what the entity owns) = Liabilities (what the entity owes) + Entity Equity (left over).

AR Aging Schedules

HDSAccording to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance, an AR aging schedule is a periodic report (30, 60, 90, 180, or 360 days) showing all outstanding ARs identified by patient or payor, and month due. The average duration of an AR is equal to total claims, divided by accounts receivable. Faster is better, of course, but it is not unusual for a hospital to wait six, nine, twelve months, or more for payment. Each of these measures seeks to answer two questions:

1) How many days of revenue are tied up in ARs?

2) How long does it take to collect ARs?

More Formulae

An important measure in the analysis of accounts receivable is the AR Ratio, AR Turnover Rate, and Average Days Receivables, expressed by these formulae:

1. AR Ratio = Current AR Balance / Average Monthly Gross Production
(suggested between 1 and 3 for hospitals)

2. AR Turnover Rate = AR Balance / Average Monthly Receipts

3. Average Days Receivable = AR Balance / Daily Average Charges
(suggested < 90 days for medical practices)

And Even More Measures

Other significant measures include:

1. Collection Period = ARs / Net Patient Revenue / 365 days

2. Gross Collection Percentage = Clinic Collections / Clinic Production
(suggested > 40-80% for hospitals)

3. Net Collection Percentage = Clinic Collections / Clinic Production – (minus) Contractual Adjustments (suggested > 80-90% for medical practices)

4. Contractual Percentage = Contractual adjustments / Gross production
(suggested < 40-50% for hospitals).

Assessment

Often, older ARs are often written off, or charged back as bad debt expenses and never collected at all.

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Defining Current Procedural Terminology [CPT®] Codes

What they are – How they work

By Staff Reportersdhimc-book

The American Medical Association’s Physicians’ Current Procedural Terminology® is contained in the CPT user guide. The maintenance of these codes is the responsibility of the American Medical Association with consultation from the AMA CPT Editorial Panel, Advisory Committee, and the AMA CPT Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee. Procedure codes in the CPT user guide are reviewed and revised annually. The Health Care Financing Administration’s – now CMS – Common Procedure Coding System [HCPCS] lists three levels:  

Level I National Codes

CPT codes are five-character, all numeric configurations (e.g., 99215). Contact the American Medical Association to obtain a current copy of the CPT® Users Manual.

Level II National Codes

The HCPCS Level II National codes are contained in the HCPCS user’s guide and are published in the Federal Register. The maintenance of these codes is the responsibility of the Health Care Financing Administration [CMS]. Procedure codes in the HCPCS user guide are reviewed and revised annually. HCPCS codes are five characters with one alpha and four numeric configurations (e.g., A0042). Contact any publishing company that provides medical coding reference books to obtain a current copy of the current HCPCS User Manual.

Level III Medicare Local Codes*

Historically, local Medicare carriers developed local procedure codes which were published in the local Medicare Newsletters. The maintenance of these codes was the responsibility of the local Medicare carrier. Medicare local procedure codes were all five-character configurations with the following alpha/numeric configuration: one alpha, (W, X, Y or Z) with four numeric configurations (e.g., Y5523); and two alphas, (W, X, Y or Z) same character with three numeric identifiers (e.g., XX001). Contact your local Medicare carriers to obtain their Medicare Newsletters.

* Note: Due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements, Medicare Local codes and the Office of Medicare Assistance Program Unique [OMAPU] codes were replaced with national standard procedure codes. 

Assessment

For more terminology information, please refer to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated?

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Medical Billing Normalization Comparisons

Understanding Medical Billing Invoice Variations

Staff Reporters

Deviations in medical billing may often be detected through utilization data that the government or private insurance companies produce on all providers that submit a claim for payment of services. Uncle Sam and insurance companies track utilization through a variety of parameters, including CPT codes, ICD-9-CM, or number of referrals; etc.

Benchmark Differences

However, different programs utilize varying benchmarks to trigger a review. For example, a physician who sees patients in the office from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., seven days a week and has the highest billing amounts in the region can be subjected to a review. This doctor’s activities would be scrutinized. The utilization review department would probably flag this doctor’s provider number and request more information on a sampling of his or her claims, based almost solely on the volume.

Doctors

Example:

Some other utilization review activities may occur due to the type of services that a doctor may offer. For example, if a cardiologist should suddenly start billing for a large number of incisions and drainage of foot abscesses, this might trigger a review, since that might not be a typical scope of service for this doctor in this locality. The same could be said for a pathologist, triggering a review due to the high volume of wound care or ulcer debridement.

Geographic Variations

Thresholds also vary from locale to locale regarding what triggers an audit. There are consultants who have suggested querying local carriers for medical provider specific information regarding utilization activity to compare against community performance. On the other hand, some Carrier Advisory Committee [CAC] representatives have indicated that this may bring undesirable attention from the Medicare program and trigger an audit.

Assessment

Now that the concept of medical billing normalization has been proposed, and we have some definitional clarity regarding potential variations, consulting professionals suggest obtaining current information with caution.

Conclusion

Please subscribe and contribute your own comments on this billing normalization topic for the benefit of all our Executive-Post readers.

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The Cure for Claims Campaign [CCC]

Reducing Healthcare Administrative Burdens and Costs

Staff Writers

To help reduce the administrative burden of ensuring accurate insurance payments for physician services, the American Medical Association [AMA] recently launched the “Cure for Claims” Campaign [CCC] and unveiled the first AMA National Health Insurer Report Card on claims processing.

Goals

The goal of the AMA campaign is to hold health insurance companies accountable for making claims processing more cost-effective and transparent, as physicians divert substantial resources – as much as 14 percent of their total revenue – to ensure accurate insurance payments for their services.

The National Health Insurer Report Card [NHIRC]

The AMA’s new National Health Insurer Report Card provides physicians and the public with information on the timeliness, transparency and accuracy of claims processing by health insurance companies. Based on a random sample pulled from more than 5 million electronically billed services, the NHIRC examines the claims processing performance of Medicare and seven national commercial health insurers: Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, CIGNA, Coventry Health Care, Health Net, Humana and United Healthcare.

Study Results

According to the June 16, 2008 AMA study: 

  • There is wide variation in how often health insurers pay nothing in response to a physician claim (from less than 3 percent to nearly 7 percent), and in how they explain the reason for the denial. There was no consistency in the application of codes used to explain the denials, making it expensive for physician practices to determine how to respond.
  • Health insurers reported to physicians the correct contracted payment rate only 62 to 87 percent of the time. When health insurers report an amount that does not adhere to the contracted rate, it adds additional, unnecessary costs to the physician practice to evaluate the inconsistency.
  • More than half of health insurers do not provide physicians with the transparency necessary for an efficient claims processing system.
  • There is wide variation among payers as to how often they apply computer generated edits to reduce payments (from a low of less than .5 percent to a high of over 9 percent). Payers also varied on how often they use proprietary rather than public edits to reduce payments (ranging from zero to as high as nearly 72 percent).

Assessment

The use of undisclosed proprietary insurance claims edits, only serve to inhibit the flow of transparent information to physicians, adding additional administrative costs to reconcile their health insurance claim issues.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated. Will likely outcomes of the CCC and NHIRC be real, or illusionary?

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