Wednesday, September 16, 2009

COBRA claims hassles?

The recession has likely meant your practice has been dealing with a jump in the number of uninsured patients paying out of pocket or unable to pay their bills. It looks like there may be another hassle for doctors’ offices: COBRA claims.

COBRA, the program that allows laid-off employees to keep their employer-based insurance temporarily, has created problems for physicians’ offices, according to an American Medical News story. The stimulus package included subsidies for the premiums, which lead to a spike in enrollment.
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The enrollment rules create complications, and there’s often a gap in health insurance coverage as a former employee is notified of the option and enrolls, which could leave physicians taking a hit. A patient may say he’s covered, but records may show the coverage was terminated.

So, one consultant says to just treat the patient as self-pay and bill him directly. Another said to set the bill aside and wait for the system to catch up. Another piece of advice is to have your practice’s COBRA policy visible and accessible. Informing patients may cut down on the hassles.

Has your practice experienced any troubles because of COBRA?

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