Submitting claims for reimbursement is how you get paid back for medical expenses by your health insurer. Learning claim filing procedures, rules, and best practices prevents delays getting your benefits.
What is a Health Insurance Claim?
A medical claim is a request made to your health insurance company to have costs for healthcare services covered per your policy benefits. Key things to know:
- The claim asks the insurer to pay for their share of expenses based on your plan details.
- Claims are submitted by the provider or facility on your behalf after medical treatment is completed.
- The insurer processes the claim to determine the allowed reimbursement amount according to your policy.
- You are responsible for paying applicable deductibles, copays, coinsurance and any disallowed charges.
Understanding the claim system helps navigate payment for eligible medical care covered under your health benefits.
Also, Check this as well Navigating the Health Insurance Appeals Process
Who Files Health Insurance Claims?
Health insurance claims are primarily filed by medical care professionals and facilities providing treatment:
- Doctors offices file claims after appointments.
- Hospitals file claims for procedures, facility fees, inpatient stays.
- Labs and radiology centers file claims for diagnostic testing.
- Pharmacies file prescription claims with pharmacy benefit managers.
As the patient, you do not need to submit claims yourself in most cases. Your providers handle claim filing directly with insurers. But knowing the process helps ensure it goes smoothly.
Claim Filing Timeline Limits
Health insurers impose claim filing time limits that medical providers must meet:
- Prompt Filing – Claims should get filed within 30-90 days of providing treatment (often 30 days).
- Filing Extensions – Providers can sometimes receive a filing extension with authorization.
- Coordination of Benefits – When patients have dual insurance coverage, secondary claims may have more time.
- Refiling Deadline – Usually 60-365 days for corrected claims or appeals.
- Patient Submission – 180-365 days if provider fails to submit original claim in timely manner.
Knowing deadlines prevents claim problems. Following up quickly on bills for care ensures timely submission for maximum reimbursement.
Health Insurance Claim Forms
Standardized claim forms contain required details for processing:
- CMS-1500 – Used by doctors/clinicians to file claims for professional services
- UB-04 – Used by hospitals and facilities to file institutional claims for location-based care
Key information on claim forms includes:
- Patient diagnosis codes
- Date/place of service
- Type of service code
- Charges for each service
- Provider info
- Insurance policy details
Correct claim form completion ensures efficient processing. Inform providers promptly about any insurance changes before they submit claims.
Claim Processing Steps
Once a payer receives a claim for medical services, they follow these review steps:
- Receipt – The claim is dated and assigned a claim number upon initial receipt.
- Entry – Details from the claim form are entered into the payer’s claim processing system.
- Adjudication – Claim details are verified for accuracy and compared to policy coverage terms to determine allowed reimbursement amounts.
- Explanation of Benefits – The EOB report explaining payable amounts, patient responsibility, and claim adjustments is generated.
- Payment/Denial – The payer issues either payment to the provider for covered amounts or denial notifications if the claim is rejected.
The outcome notification and payment is returned within 30-60 days in most cases if clean claims are submitted with all necessary information upfront.
Importance of Accurate Billing Codes
Medical billing codes on claims detail your diagnosis and services received. Insurers rely on codes for processing:
- ICD codes – Diagnosis codes specifying injury, condition or illness.
- CPT codes – Treatment procedure codes defining services provided.
- HCPCS codes – Products, equipment and supplies used in care.
- Revenue codes – Hospital services billing codes for room charges, medications, labs, etc.
Providers selecting inaccurate codes causes claim issues. Verify billing accuracy before care and on subsequent EOB paperwork to prevent problems.
Most Common Claim Problems
Claims getting denied or kicking back with errors often involve:
- Missing member insurance ID or policy group number for proper identification
- Errors or outdated provider billing information
- Wrong ICD diagnosis or CPT procedure codes making services seem inconsistent
- Lack of supporting documentation for complex claims requiring extensive details
- Errors in date formatting or service date discrepancies
- Missing authorizations needed for covered pre-approvals on file
- Time limit expired between date of service and claim submission
Double checking claim information submitted on your behalf reduces common hiccups in the processing workflow.
Explanation of Benefits
This statement outlines claim processing results:
- The EOB shows approved amounts paid to providers and any patient responsibility based on cost sharing.
- It details amounts allowed by the insurer versus the original billed charges.
- Any claim adjustments, errors or disallowed services also appear on the EOB.
- Outstanding deductibles, copays or coinsurance are clearly defined.
Carefully reviewing EOBs ensures accurate claim payment and helps identify mistakes made by the insurer or provider requiring follow up.
Appealing Denied Insurance Claims
If a claim is denied, reduced, or reimbursed less than expected, you can dispute the outcome:
- Request your provider re-file the claim if simple billing errors occurred.
- Formally appeal the determination in writing within 120-180 days in most cases.
- Ask for notes from insurer on why they rejected the claim under your policy to address concerns.
- Provide additional supporting documentation needed to overturn denial.
Following proper protocols gives the best chance for overturning unfavorable claim decisions and achieving appropriate reimbursement. Don’t leave money on the table.
Claim Reimbursement Timeframes
How quickly you receive claim payments or reimbursements depends on:
- Electronic claims – Fastest turnaround. Entered automatically and processed within days.
- Paper claims – Slower. Must be manually entered and reviewed before processing.
- Clean claims – Complete information speeds processing with fewer errors kicking back claims.
- Size of payer – Large national payers tend to process faster with more advanced systems.
- Priority handling – Urgent or expedited requests can get handled faster in some cases.
Confirm if your providers submit claims electronically for fastest reimbursement. Follow up quickly on bills to get any missing particulars needed for smooth processing.
Claim Payment Methods
Insurers directly pay providers and facilities negotiated reimbursement amounts. For your cost sharing responsibility, payment options include:
- Bills from medical providers outlining your deductible, copay or coinsurance amounts.
- Explanation of Benefits statements denoting your share of costs.
- Insurer mobile apps allowing you to pay patient responsibility amounts digitally.
Knowing payment timeframes and methods prevents unexpected bills and keeps balances clear for ongoing care access. Set up payment plans or financial assistance as needed.
Coordination of Benefits
Coordination of benefits applies for patients with dual health insurance coverage:
- Rules establish which plan pays first as the primary insurer and which pays second as the secondary insurer.
- Both plans are submitted claims to maximize total reimbursement across policies.
- Primary insurance pays their portion first. You pay applicable cost sharing.
- The claim is then submitted to secondary insurance to cover any amounts not reimbursed by the primary plan.
Understanding proper coordination helps claims get paid accurately and avoids payment delays. Let providers know about all applicable coverage when submitting claims.
Common Health Insurance Claim Questions
What is the typical claims processing timeline?
Clean electronic claims are often processed within 14-30 days. Paper claims and those needing corrections or review may take up to 60 days. Tracking your EOB dates gives you visibility.
Can I submit a claim myself directly to my insurer?
Yes, patients can submit claims on their own behalf for reimbursement in special cases where providers are out-of-network or fail to submit in a timely manner after repeated requests. Get claim forms from your insurer.
How do I check the status of a submitted claim?
You can call your insurance company directly to get claim status updates. Providers can also check claims using online portals for clearinghouses and insurers to view processing steps and identify any issues delaying payment.
What are my options if my claim gets denied?
First, get notes from your insurer on why the claim was rejected. Work with your provider to appeal and send supporting documentation. Sometimes re-filing with corrected codes or missing details can override original denials for payment.
How do I submit a claim appeal?
Get appeal instructions from your insurer. File paperwork within the designated timeframe, and include documents backing up reasons the denial should get overturned such as clinical proof of medical necessity. Most plans require going through the full appeals process before seeking external reviews.
Knowing how to navigate the claim process helps ensure you receive maximum reimbursement for eligible medical expenses covered under your health insurance benefits.