“Let’s Make A Deal”
If you’re billing insurance out of network, you will eventually receive faxes or emails like this:
Who are these people, and why are they contacting me?
Yep… it’s the “Let’s Make a Deal” game…
There’s a whole industry of third-party re-pricers and “passive PPO’s.” Multiplan is just one of many out there.
A “re-pricer” is just what it sounds like an entity that looks at a claim and decides what is the “allowable” amount.
Sometimes, it’s not who you think it is who decides how much you’ll be paid…..
A “passive PPO” is an alternative provider network that serves as a backup to the original payer’s panel, another method to force a discount on out-of-network claims.
Here’s the shell game: You are out of network but submit a claim to an insurance payer so that the patient can get out-of-network reimbursement. (It doesn’t matter whether you’ve accepted the assignment or not). The payer looks at the claim, and your NPI/tax ID and sees that you are out of network.
If the payer, let’s say it’s Cigna. If they have an arrangement with a third-party party re-pricer such as MultiPlan, then the claim is sent to MultiPlan by Cigna before any action is taken.
MultiPlan’s job is to contact the doctor (YOU) and offer a discount. Keep in mind that they don’t work for free, either.
The fax makes it sound as if you won’t get paid promptly unless you agree to the discount.
“Your acceptance may expedite payment…”
They mislead a lot of people into giving discounts with that language. Don’t be fooled. All states have “prompt payment” laws that specify how long an insurer has to adjudicate a “clean” claim. If the claim was sent to Multiplan, then by definition, it was accepted for adjudication and is “clean.” If the insurer doesn’t respond within the time frame, they must pay you interest.
By telling you acceptance of these terms means you will decrease your patient’s cost share, this is true…but not the whole picture. Acceptance does reduce the amount the patient has to pay. But it does NOT put you into the network or shift the benefit level back to “in-network.” The patient will still only receive the out-of-network benefit level.
When you receive one of these offers:
It is ok to ignore it and within a couple of days, the passive PPO is required to return the claim back to the payer, who will process it as they originally would have done without the re-pricer’s involvement.
Depending on if I have time, I enjoy calling them and (politely) telling them to get lost. I also ask them to remove the provider’s TIN / NPI from this member’s claims. Otherwise, they will continue to send offers for each date of service.
If the patient paid in full at the time of service – you may be filing for them to be reimbursed. Maybe the re-pricer is responding to a superbill submitted by the patient. Whatever the case is, do not negotiate; you will be cheating your patient unintentionally.
Let’s say your patient is having financial difficulties affording out-of-network treatment, this is a legal way to offer a discount on the full billed charge after the claim is submitted.
You *will* receive these offers even if the patient’s deductible has not been met. If you have agreed to the discount, you cannot charge the patient what you originally billed. You must charge them only what you agreed to.
If it’s a situation where you thought you were in-network for a particular patient, and then you turned out not to be, accepting a discount might smooth over difficulties from a clinical perspective.
Be careful not to mark the box that says, “I accept a global fee agreement to eliminate the need for case-by-case faxes.” This puts you in network with the passive PPO…and forces discounts with any payer who chooses to hire them. You will be giving discounts where you don’t intend to. However, the patients won’t get better benefits unless the passive PPO is their primary network (it can happen, with smaller payers).
You will not receive these offers if the patient has no out-of-network benefits.
Whatever your reasons for considering a deal, you can certainly attempt to get a better rate than what they first offer. I’ve found reps willing to go as high as 50% of the amount they are trying to write off.
Re-pricers only have the power to adjust the final allowed amount; they do not get to determine what/how much is covered, paid, denied, or applied to the deductible. Nor can they quote benefits. For any of that, you must continue to work with the payer.
Still need help? Contact Your Billing Buddy!