Mental health professionals often have their work cut out for them. Many people think that their biggest problems stem from seeing and scheduling patients; however, this is not the case. Rather, one of the largest issues is the collection of payment for the services they render. Many small offices run on thin financial margins and have a small office staff at their disposal. This can result in a practice collecting less than 80% of the money owed from insurance companies. Don’t fall into the trap that many mental health professionals land in; hiring a competent medical biller and coder will pay off in the long run. Avoiding common billing pitfalls can easily double the amount of money you collect from insurance companies. Read on for some of the most common questions in regards to mental health billing.

What is the Normal Time Frame on Insurance Payouts?

Generally, most insurance companies will pay 30 business days from the date they received the claim. Many insurance companies will payout in 2-3 weeks depending on their policies. After a small practice clears its first 30 days in business, providers will not usually notice the delay due to a steady stream of income from the insurance providers.

What if a Patient Doesn’t Notify You of a Policy Change?cartoon brain

This happens a lot in the world of medical billing and small practices. A patient will make changes to their policy and will forget to notify the practice they go to of the insurance change, which will result in a denial. The other issue that comes up is that a patient’s insurance has lapsed and they have not told the practice; in this case, you must try to get payment for the client directly. In the case of a new policy, you’ll have to re-file the same claim through the new policy. If it needs pre-authorization, the insurance company will have to back date the claim. Always tell your staff to ask your patients about insurance changes.

How Long Can I Wait to Submit an Insurance Claim?

This depends entirely on the insurance provider. Medicare, for example, allows 1 year to 18 months. Aetna typically allows 90 days to file the claim. Always check with insurance companies if you unsure of the time frame.

What’s the Hardest Part of Mental Health Billing?

This is subjective, but one of the most difficult aspects of mental health billing is dealing with each individual insurance company and the various hoops they make billers jump through. Even when a professional biller makes no mistakes in the billing process, insurance companies can sometimes have a way of complicating things.

How Many Times Can I Bill a Client in One Day?

colored handsIf a client has multiple sessions in one day, you’ll be tempted to bill all the sessions in one day. However, without special authorization, the rule is normally one session per patient, per day. This can happen when an office has a patient that sees both a psychiatrist and a counselor in the same day.

Should I Just Stick to Cash-Only?

We don’t think so. Leaving money on the table is not necessary when you have a competent mental health coding and billing team under your employment. Many small practices have had bad experiences with in-house office staff, causing them to doubt the use of insurance companies in general. However, most insurance companies such as Blue Cross, Blue Shield, United Behavioral Health, and Aetna pay very well.

Virtual Mental Health Billing

Like we said, don’t leave money on the table. With over 18 years of medical billing and coding experience, The Psych Biller has the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve an exceptional amount of approved claims in the mental health billing world. If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to remote medical billing for your mental health practice, consider reading one of our blogs about outsourcing your medical billing.