Nitin Chhoda explains the health care insurance, its providers, the Insurance coverages and the Affordable Care Act for patients.
He also discusses the importance of knowing the limitations of patients’ insurance so that patients and service providers know what to expect at the time of treatment.
Healthcare practice management costs that continue to rise and unforeseen medical emergencies are the two overriding reasons individuals buy healthcare insurance.
Essentially, patients purchase insurance against the risk of becoming ill or encountering a potentially expensive and unforeseen medical need.
Accidents and catastrophic medical emergencies happen in the blink of an eye. Healthcare insurance helps defray patient costs and insures healthcare providers receive payment for their services.
Patient healthcare insurance is most often provided through an individual’s employer. Business owners contract with insurance companies to provide an established range of healthcare services that can include hospitalization, vision and dental coverage, along with office visits, prescriptions and lab tests.
Available coverage varies widely, with employers shouldering a major portion of the costs while the individual is responsible for co-pays, deductibles and monthly premiums. Medicaid and Medicare represent another form of healthcare insurance. Medicare is administered through the federal government.
Medicaid is funded through federal and state governments and distributed at the discretion of each state. Medicare is accessible by retirees and the disabled. Medicaid typically covers low-income children and adults with no other available options.
Dwindling funds and budgetary concerns have led to coverage limits in both Medicaid and Medicare, making it essential for therapists to verify a patient’s coverage before treatment.
There’s been a push by healthcare insurance providers and employers for patients to shoulder more of the monetary burden of their healthcare, giving rise to a wide variety of special clauses and exclusions in healthcare policies.
Cancer, long-term healthcare needs and disability claims are costly for insurance providers and many policies now require clients to purchase additional, specific coverage for certain conditions. The result of shifts in healthcare insurance policies and practices has resulted in a lack of sufficient coverage for much of the population.
Underinsured clients and those with no coverage present a major problem for therapists who must balance the desire to practice their profession and render aid to those in need, with operating a practice that remains solvent and profitable. The first line of collections when a patient receives treatment is the healthcare provider.
To ensure reimbursements are received in a timely manner, practitioners submit claims to the patient’s insurance provider.
Any amount not covered through the client’s healthcare plan is the responsibility of the patient. It’s essential for therapists to determine a client’s coverage before the time of treatment to ensure the patient receives necessary services and clinicians obtain the payment to which they’re entitled.
The Affordable Care Act
Clinicians must ensure they have current insurance information for every client they treat before the patient arrives at the office.
It’s an unfortunate reality, but the direction of current insurance company policies may force therapists to decline patients with limited or no coverage to ensure their practice isn’t at financial risk.
Insurance companies represent the first line of reimbursements for clinics, followed by state and government programs, and self-pay patients. Changing and evolving healthcare insurance will require practice owners to examine the state of their businesses and the patients they treat with an increasingly stringent set of criteria.