How COVID-19 Is Impacting the Medical Billing Industry
During stay-at-home orders, people were asked to cancel all but their essential appointments. Annual exams, teeth cleaning, and other health maintenance activities were put on hold. Being in the hospital not only takes up a bed that might be needed for COVID-19 care, it also potentially exposes the patient to the coronavirus just by having them in the hospital environment, but so elective surgeries like hip or knee replacements were also cancelled. This resulted in a lot of lost revenue for medical facilities.
When billable services are down, it becomes even more important for medical billing to be effective because the success of the business depends on getting every claim paid when there are fewer of them, so most medical billers are busy as usual.
Unfortunately, some facilities shut down for the duration of the pandemic, and their medical billing staff were laid off or furloughed along with the rest of the staff.
More Medical Billing Is Being Done From Home
Even before the pandemic, many medical billers and coders worked from home. To do so requires high-speed internet and a secure connection, but otherwise just a basic home office. Since medical billers work independently and not collaboratively, it is easy to do the job remotely.
Since the virus shut down offices, many medical billing companies and institutions with in-house billers started having those employees work from home. Some facilities that had their own large billing staffs in the past are realizing that their employees do fine working from home and they can save a lot of money by not having to dedicate space to the billing department. When it is safe to have full staff back in their offices, many billing positions may remain remote.
Medical Billing Has Become More Complicated
Sars-CoV-2 is a coronavirus, similar to those that caused the SARS and MERS epidemics in the past; however, it affects people differently, creating a different set of symptoms. It also spreads somewhat differently, though it is extremely contagious. It spread across the planet in about a month, and then began spreading through the US, resulting in the declaration of a national emergency.
What that means for medical billing is fast changes in codes, regulations, and insurer coverage. The usual slow process of investigating all angles and consulting with stakeholders must be put aside in emergency conditions. CDC and AMA began approving billing codes as quickly as possible. The government proclaimed that uninsured people would not have to pay for testing and treatment for COVID-19, leaving insurers to figure out how they can and can’t charge for care, and providers wondering how to get reimbursed for their services.
Providers were already dealing with a lot of confusion over medical billing. The sudden changes and plethora of new rules have made it even more difficult. Medical service providers who are looking for a solution would do well to consider outsourcing medical billing to a professional billing company like Medcare MSO.
Medical billing companies don’t treat patients, so they are free to devote complete focus to billing and coding. They have time to contact the payer or insurer if there is a question (and when coding is changing, there often is).
Dedicated medical billers can sit down and go through the new guidance, rules, and codes to make sure they are following the latest billing protocols. Busy medical staff can’t afford the time to do that, but under the conditions of the current economy, practices can’t afford to lose the income. Handing off the whole billing process to a medical billing company is a successful solution that relieves medical staff stress in addition to streamlining revenue cycle management (RCM).
If you are ready to get some relief from medical billing complexities, give us a call today. We are happy to talk to you at 800-640-6409.