Medical billing careers are one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the country today. As technology continues to advance and the medical industry itself continues to grow, the demand for qualified medical billers is increasing. Medical billers may be hired by insurers, hospitals or private physicians’ practices. Training and certification can be completed in a fraction of the time of a four-year college degree and jobs offer competitive benefits and starting salaries.
The number one trait medical billers should possess and work every day to improve is their attention to detail. Accuracy is critical in performing the job rapidly and well. Medical billing is detail-oriented and complicated work. Many employees have high work loads and expectations of quick performance. Unfortunately for patients and billers alike, this can lead to numerous errors with far-reaching consequences. The very best defense against these errors is to work carefully and strive for accuracy at all times.
Medical billing is a complex system of codes that insurers, doctors and hospitals use to keep records of patient treatments, bill for services and split billing between insurers and patients. Simple keystroke errors can create complex and difficult to resolve errors that have a tremendous and immediate impact on patients’ lives. Developing the ability to work rapidly yet check your work frequently for mistakes is vital to ensuring the best possible quality control on the job.
One of the most common errors patients encounter is being double-billed for a particular treatment, item or service. In many cases, this is the result of a simple moment of distraction on the part of the medical biller, who inadvertently keyed the same item twice. For patients, this can be frustrating or even infuriating, as correcting the problem can sometimes take longer than it should. Some patients do not even notice the error and simply overpay their bills, which can create financial strain in their own lives. Keeping your mind on the task at hand until it is completed, rather than stopping midway through a task, is one effective deterrent to accidental double billings.
Incorrect Insurance Billings
An invoice generated by a hospital for a patient with insurance can be complex. Not only does each treatment and service need to be coded, but the dollar amounts for which both the patient and the insurer are responsible must be coded as well. With the number of insurance plans currently in effect in the country, each with different rules, regulations and stipulations, it is little wonder that this is an area rife with opportunity for error.
The current economic climate and consumer backlash against the insurance industry can make this particular problem even more difficult to resolve. Insurers can be difficult to reach and may be unwilling to review or revise payments. In some cases, patients lose the will to fight before the situation has been resolved, paying more than they owe simply to avoid a protracted battle with their insurance companies.
Billing for the Wrong Treatment
Keystroke errors or misunderstandings can lead to incorrect line items on invoices. For instance, a patient may be billed accidentally for a much more costly service than he received. On the flip side, a patient could also be dramatically undercharged, which would create a net loss for your employer if the error is not caught.
This can be one of the simplest errors to avoid. Take care not to make assumptions or work on autopilot when coding individual items. Again, maintain a laser-like focus on detail and accuracy to prevent simple typographical errors that can cause patients or hospitals large sums of money.
Long Term Consequences of Errors
Patients who have been mis-billed and found themselves unable to successfully appeal their invoices can find themselves facing collections, bankruptcy or even foreclosure as a result of their medical bills. If they have ongoing medical issues, they may find themselves unable to afford further treatment. Hospitals that routinely issue incorrect bills can find themselves facing public relations and customer service nightmares. In some cases, they may need to make settlements that are costly and time-consuming. Ultimately, the best remedy to all of these problems is to work carefully and diligently at all times.