Clearinghouses – Simply a Pass-Through Portal?
AMBA 2019 National Conference Session Recap
Written by Stephanie Cremeans of EZClaim – AMBA 2019 National Conference Session Recap
I recently attended a breakout session of a seminar with a slide titled: “Clearinghouses are not Simply a ‘Pass-Through’ Portal.” With my role as a software support specialist, I immediately tensed up and thought about how inaccurate this statement is – I hear from clients that think that the software or the clearinghouse has changed their data, but that simply isn’t how it works. Well, kind of not how it works. You know that nothing in medical billing is as simple as it seems! Depending on how your practice management system works and depending on your understanding of how electronic claims are filed this may or may not be a valid statement. While I’ve always described a clearinghouse as simply a “pass-through” for your claims this seminar got me thinking about how much more a clearinghouse is! Let’s explore a little, starting from entering your claim into your PM system and clicking send.
The first piece of the puzzle is understanding what your PM system is (or isn’t) doing with the data. You’ve entered the claim data and you are ready to send your claims to the clearinghouse, but how is that data transferred? There are 2 typical formats – Print Image or ANSI 837. All claims being sent to payers must be in the ANSI 837 format, following specific guidelines for submissions. Although some clearinghouses are no longer accepting Print Image files, some do. In this instance, the PM system creates a snapshot of a claim form which requires the clearinghouse to move data into the correct fields for claim submission to the payer via the ANSI 837. Preferably, your PM system can create the ANSI 837 file for submission to the clearinghouse. The biggest advantage here is that you can typically view the file and the clearinghouse will not be changing anything before submission to your payer. If your PM system cannot create an ANSI 837 file I would consider upgrading or find a new solution.
So that’s it, right? If you have a system that creates a Print Image the clearinghouse is more than a pass-through and they “change” your data. If you send an ANSI 837 file, it simply passes your file along. Well … while this may be true, it’s really only part of the story, and you are potentially missing out on some pretty amazing resources that are at your fingertips! In addition to submitting the claims to your payers, they can scrub claims for common errors, confirm batch receipt and acceptance, provide claim level updates of accepted/rejected claims, and provide electronic remittance advice for auto-posting insurance payments. In addition, many offer additional services (for an additional fee) that can integrate with many practice management systems like integrated eligibility, determine deductibles and co-pays, patient cost estimators, claim status inquiry, patient statement processing, and printing services for your paper claims.
I’m working hard to remove the phrase “just a pass-through” from my definition of a clearinghouse. Once you have submitted an 837 file, they are still doing so much more than simply passing along the file.
EZClaim partners with TriZetto Provider Solutions but is designed in such a way that it will work with any clearinghouse a customer would like to use. The white-glove support team is even there to help set up the connection if needed.
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