While your healthcare business may be compliant with billing regulations and coding, this does not mean that your payer is compliant and has paid you correctly per your contract. Providers know that Fraud and Abuse has been one of the largest areas of focus for payers and the government over the past 20 years. Due to this attention, many healthcare businesses engage auditors to audit their compliance of claims quarterly or annually. However, in addition to compliance audits, a provider should be auditing their payer interaction to create a dynamic blueprint of denial management and payment recovery. The AMA states that a 5% denial rate for an average family practice equates to about $30,000 walking of the door. A good benchmark for payer compliance would be a denial rate of 5-10%. Often times, practices and healthcare businesses operate with a much higher rate, and even in the 20-30% range without even knowing it.
When auditing the payer interaction, several components should be included in the review including:
Denial rate percentage
Aging of claims paid for 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, over 120 day period as an Aggregate
Aging of claims paid for 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, over 120 day period by each Payer
Claims denied categorized by denial reason as an Aggregate for previous 12 months
Claims denied categorized by denial reason by each Payer for previous 12 months
Claims that have been appealed, the date submitted, the date of the outcome, the outcome by each Payer
Claims not paid according to fee schedule as an Aggregate for previous 12 months
Claims not paid according to fee schedule by each Payer for previous 12 months
As the movement to value based arrangements continues many providers are considering joining an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). At the same time, regulators from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) are signaling increased scrutiny of Accountable Care Organizations and other value based payment arrangements, especially those making creative use of the antitrust and fraud and abuse waivers in place for Medicare ACOs. A recent article states that claims of higher quality of care may help in defense of antitrust action. Tracking and organizing results that reflect efficiencies and quality improvements is obviously a must but before a provider even considers joining an ACO, the following questions must be asked and answered:
What level of risk are you willing to assume?
First know what level of risk you are willing to assume. For instance, are you comfortable assuming risk at all or do you want to enter this area more slowly and share in only the savings? A core challenge when converting to a value based, rather than fee for service system, is the lack of consistency in payment measures.
What are your baseline metrics for the quality measures?
The ACO will identify quality measures as part of the agreement. Currently there is a lack of a single set of metrics adopted by all payer sources. To negotiate your position, you must know your baseline and whether you can meet the benchmarks identified. Quality metrics can include for example, HEDIS measures, AHRQ measures, and CMS measures.