Time and again new practices invest countless hours and money focused on office space, equipment, software and staffing only to open their doors for business and find significant delays in getting adequate insurance reimbursements. More often than not, the problem could’ve be allayed by addressing the insurance credentialing process early and thoroughly – creating the necessary relationships with insurance carriers. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you address the insurance credentialing process .
Timing – Start Early!
Plan on starting the insurance credentialing process early – at minimum allow at least six months before you see your first patient. Carriers will often take as much as 3-4 months to review documents and make a determination, even if everything is in order. If there are errors, missing information or a question about submitted documentation, several more weeks or even months can be added to the process. This six month allowance, starting from the time credentials are submitted, usually gives enough time to address problems should they arise. If too little time is granted before the practice opens, and you begin seeing patients before insurance credentialing is complete, you are open to the risk of getting an “out of network” rate, reimbursements might be sent to the patient, or, worst case scenario, you may not get paid at all insurance contracting and credentialing.
Identify Target Carriers
To define which insurances you might credential with, consider your practice location and patient demographics. Will a significant percentage have Medicare or Medicaid? Is there a particular company or business in the area that employs a large portion of the surrounding population? A quick call to their human resources office to inquire what insurances they currently offer employees (as well as possible changes the near future) can be a good indicator of the carriers you’ll want to consider.
Also, check with colleagues, other providers, clinics and even larger hospitals in the area and ask who their most common payors are. Inquire about which payors are best to work with – who reimburses in a timely manner, which offer the largest enrollments, and which carriers might be at capacity with other providers in your specialty.
As you identify which insurance carriers might be most popular in the area, make a list of the top 10 or 15. Then, think about what other providers are saying and pare that list down to the top 7 or 8. This will be your short list of where to go next. Don’t go overboard and choose too many from the start – if nothing else, you’ll run yourself ragged in keeping up with the submissions.