Chiropractic Billing Compliance | Can you avoid getting audited?
The audit of his chiropractic documentation a few weeks ago did not go well for Ben. Now he had to pay $30,000 as penalty, according to the letter he just received from Blue Insurance.
Ben felt angry as he crumpled the letter in his hand and said: “Where am I going get this kind of money?” His wife, Carmen, stopped feeding their 8-month old baby boy, Jonathan, for a moment to look at Ben. The dark circles under his eyes were a testament to his many sleepless nights this month. She was concerned, but did not want to add fuel to the fire. He was already stressed out enough. This fine came at the worst time possible since she was still staying home with the baby and wasn’t able to alleviate her family’s financial burden with an additional income. In spite of her MBA she had no helpful business advice to offer either. She felt helpless and powerless as she watched her husband struggle with this new burden.
It all started three weeks ago when Ben received a notice from Blue Insurance to review the notes for chiropractic claims that he was paid in 2012. Apparently some of his patients had received inaccurate information due to sloppy accounting and complained, which raised red flags with the insurance company. Next thing he knew, the auditor was knocking on his clinic’s door to inspect the notes for those claims in question.
Carmen suddenly had an idea:”Why don’t we meet your friend, Tom, who had to go through an audit last year? Maybe he can give you some pointers on how to deal with this situation.”
Tom owned a chiropractic clinic in the same neighborhood and was happy to meet them for lunch. “I’m sorry you have to go through this, too, Ben,” he said. “Being audited and fined is no walk in the park, but don’t beat yourself up over it. I have learned that the insurance companies come after all chiros because they simply do not want to pay us. In fact, the fewer providers they have to deal with, the better. So they just try to blacklist as many of us as possible.”
Ben was taken by surprise:”Seriously? Are you saying that anyone can get audited?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Tom responded. “Audit penalties are pure revenue for the insurance companies. And just like every other business, they want to increase their profits. I read in this recent article by Palmetto GBA that chiropractors have a high error rate of 84.41 percent. That makes it easy for the insurance companies to come after us.”
“So audits are pretty much a fact of life,” Carmen said flatly. “I just wonder if there is any way Ben can reduce his audit risk so that we still have money for diapers and the electric bill after the next audit,” she added half-jokingly.