Medical billing and medical coding are complicated in their own right. The healthcare system in the United States is a behemoth in all proportions and medical billing is no exception. Due to what is termed “healthcare bloat”—or something along those lines, in the healthcare system, medical office staff are often overworked and stressed for time. Anyone who is under those conditions is liable to make minor errors as they deal with the myriad of problems that arise. Unlike many other fields of work, making a simple clerical error while billing or coding can have extremely time-consuming ramifications. This goes doubly for mental health billing—which is often a more unpredictable field for billing and coding.
Medical Billing is More Predictable
While both medical billing and mental health billing are difficult in their own right, medical billing has a distinct advantage in that there is a certain uniformity to how medical care is administered. Not only has the concept of medical care as we know it been around longer than mental health evaluation, but the nature of medical care has a more natural escalation than mental health care.
For example, most issues follow a simple progression where no matter what issue you are being treated for, it will almost always begin with a simple check-up. Checking your weight and height, measuring your blood pressure, bringing you in for an interpersonal evaluation with the doctor about how you’ve been feeling/any symptoms you are experiencing is standard.
Doctors have been performing these evaluations in this manner for so long that they are a highly predictable aspect of care. So much so that many patients often feel rushed or that their doctor doesn’t care—this isn’t necessarily true in many cases. The truth is that after doing this over a thousand times, they learn to separate true abnormalities from simple deviations that pose no concern. A doctor can tell you within a few minutes accuracy how long a routine checkup will take on average. Because of how similar these initial stages of treatment are, billing for them is a much more predictable matter.
Is Mental Health Billing More Complex?
Mental Health Billing is not nearly the same beast. Consider how the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is constantly evolving. It is almost 2020 and mental health awareness is still a fairly new concept in the developed world. We are only just now becoming comfortable as a society with discussing issues such as anxiety and depression, while also destigmatizing these issues. The point is that our perceptions of mental health disorders, their normality, and what causes them is still changing.
How Does this Make Mental Health Coding Difficult?
If our very perceptions and understanding of mental health disorders are changing year to year, that also means that the definitions of these disorders in the DSM will change. Likewise, this results in a great deal of volatility when it comes to mental health billing codes/CPT codes. Using the wrong codes can create a lot of problems as you’re technically causing the patient to be billed for the wrong service/length of service.
This travels all the way up to the biller, then the insurance company, and ultimately back to the clinic not being paid. It costs valuable time and labor, and money to fix these minor issues.
Outsourced Medical Billing
Many of these headaches can be avoided by simply outsourcing your medical billing to a remote billing/coding company such as The Psych Biller! We’ve helped many offices improve their workflow, save time and money by taking the work out of the office. This frees up your administrative and medical staff to focus on the things that really matter in your practice—the patients!
Contact The Psych Biller today to get started!