CEO SUMMARY: In a federal lawsuit against Laboratory Corporation of America, plaintiffs who were uninsured or underinsured charged the lab company with engaging in “business practices that trick and harass customers into paying excessive prices.” Plaintiffs made this and other claims in court documents alleging that LabCorp overcharged them by two to five and as
Laboratory BillingSkip to articles
The laboratory billing process is the interaction between a clinical lab or pathology group and the insurance company (payer). The entirety of this laboratory billing interaction is known as the billing cycle, which can take anywhere from several days to several months to complete, and require several interactions before a resolution is reached. The entire process is the function of what is commonly known as the laboratory coding/billing/collections department.
Laboratory billing starts with laboratory coding. After a lab service is provided, diagnosis and procedure codes are assigned. These codes assist the insurance company in determining coverage and medical necessity of the services. The codes used for laboratory billing are the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, usually called by the short-form name International Classification of Diseases (ICD), and the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes.
The ICD is the international “standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes.” The current version is ICD-9, with ICD 10 scheduled to become the new standard on Oct. 15, 2015. It is maintained by the World Health Organization, the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations System. The ICD is designed as a health care classification system, providing a system of diagnostic codes for classifying diseases, including nuanced classifications of a wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or disease.
The CPT code set is a medical code set maintained by the American Medical Association through the CPT Editorial Panel. The CPT (copyright protected by the AMA) describes medical, surgical, and diagnostic services and is designed to communicate uniform information about medical services and procedures among physicians, coders, patients, accreditation organizations, and payers for administrative, financial, and analytical purposes.
Once the procedure and diagnosis codes are determined, the lab bill enters the laboratory collections/revenue cycle management phase. The payer is usually billed electronically by formatting the claim as an ANSI 837 file and using Electronic Data Interchange to submit the claim file to the payer directly or via a clearinghouse. The payer processes the claims usually by medical claims examiners or medical claims adjusters. For higher dollar amount claims, the insurance company has medical directors review the claims and evaluate their validity for payment using rubrics (procedure) for patient eligibility, provider credentials, and medical necessity.
Approved claims are reimbursed for a certain percentage of the billed services. These rates are pre-negotiated between the health care provider and the insurance company. Failed claims are denied or rejected and notice is sent to provider. Most commonly, denied or rejected claims are returned to providers in the form of Explanation of Benefits (EOB) or Electronic Remittance Advice.
Upon receiving the denial message the provider must decipher the message, reconcile it with the original claim, make required corrections and resubmit the claim. This exchange of claims and denials may be repeated multiple times until a claim is paid in full, or the provider relents and accepts an incomplete reimbursement.
CEO SUMMARY: Two lawsuits filed in federal courts against Laboratory Corporation of America and Quest Diagnostics may have consequences for the entire lab industry. The plaintiffs are patients who allege that the two defendant lab companies charged them as much as 10 times more than what Medicare, Medicaid, or commercial health plans charged. Allegations include overcharging,
CEO SUMMARY: There have been significant developments in the case against Quest Diagnostics for allegedly overcharging uninsured patients for clinical laboratory tests. This second section covers the federal judge’s most recent decisions, along with an assessment of how the plaintiffs and the defendent each received favorable rulings.
First of Two Parts: Section Two
IN THE FEDERAL LAWSUIT
CEO SUMMARY: Evidence shows that adoption of ICD-10 diagnosis codes in 2015 made it possible for health insurers to track clinical laboratory testing more closely, ask more questions about those tests, and deny coverage. Increased detail about each patient’s condition has led to increased demands for medical-necessity documentation and to denied payments of as much
CEO SUMMARY: Federal prosecutors said those charged illegally lured elderly patients nationwide into giving cheek swabs for fraudulent genetic tests. The indicted individuals allegedly paid kickbacks and bribes to medical professionals working with telemedicine companies in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries for unnecessary genetic tests. Indictments were announced on Sept. 27 in an investigation that
CEO SUMMARY: One association representing pathologists says new payment rates that Anthem, Inc., is introducing in 14 states do not cover the costs of performing anatomic pathology and clinical lab testing for the tests in question. Another association says the steep payment cuts threaten the viability of small and rural pathology groups. State-by-state, Anthem is
IN A SIGNIFICANT WIN for the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) and other groups suing federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in the ACLA’s favor on July 30.
Ruling on the appeal in the case the ACLA brought against HHS Secretary Alex Azar
CEO SUMMARY: In 2017, an auditor for CMS alleged that True Health filed fraudulent claims and the federal Medicare program cut all payments to the lab company and one month later reduced the cut to 35% of the billed amount. Two months ago, CMS ended all payments again. These facts became public on July 2
CEO SUMMARY: Deep cuts in what Anthem pays pathologists for the professional component for certain AP services are having a harmful effect on the long-standing relationships that dermatologists have with dermatopathologists, some physicians say. By disrupting these relationships, Anthem is harming patient care, they add. Since late last year, in a growing number of states,
CEO SUMMARY: As of Aug. 1, Aetna will stop paying out-of-network pathologists for the professional component review of certain clinical pathology tests. Until now, the health insurer has paid for the professional component when out-of-network labs billed for clinical lab tests using the modifier 26. In a notice to labs, Aetna said it will pay