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Minimizing Denials and Appeals – Strategies for New York Psychiatrist

by BillingFreedom | Feb 20, 2024

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In healthcare, New York psychiatrists face unique challenges regarding medical billing. With ever-evolving regulations, coding systems, and the need to ensure patient confidentiality, the path to financial success can be fraught with obstacles. However, it’s a manageable feat.

This article about the critical medical billing for psychiatrists practicing in the Empire State offers a comprehensive guide to minimizing denials and appeals.

We understand that a billing system is not just about getting paid—it’s about empowering psychiatrists to focus on what they do best: providing exceptional mental health care.

Join us as we explore proven strategies, insider tips, and expert insights that can reduce denial rates to under 1% and transform appeals into a strategic advantage. Discover how mastering medical billing can optimize your revenue and elevate the quality of care you provide as a dedicated New York psychiatrist.

Top 5 Medical Billing Denials In New York Psychiatrists

Medical billing denials can occur for various reasons, and New York psychiatrists need to understand these common denials to minimize claim rejections and ensure timely reimbursement.

Here are the top 5 medical billing denials, along with explanations specific to a New York psychiatrist’s practice:


  • Incomplete or Inaccurate Patient Information

    • This denial occurs when patient information, such as name, date of birth, or insurance details, is incomplete or inaccurate.
    • New York Psychiatrist: Ensure your administrative staff accurately collects and verifies patient information during registration. New York has strict regulations regarding patient data protection, so it’s crucial to maintain accurate records.

    Lack of Medical Necessity

    • Insurers may deny claims if they believe the services provided were not medically necessary or didn’t meet their criteria for coverage.
    • New York Psychiatrist: Ensure you document patient evaluations and treatment plans thoroughly, highlighting the medical necessity of psychiatric services. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of different insurance plans to align your documentation accordingly.

    Authorization or Referral Issues

    • Some insurance plans require prior authorization or referrals for certain psychiatric services, and claims can only be allowed if these prerequisites are met.
    • New York Psychiatrist: Familiarize yourself with the authorization and referral requirements of the insurance plans you commonly work with. Train your staff to obtain necessary authorizations and referrals before rendering services.

    Coding Errors

    • Claims can be denied due to coding errors, such as incorrect CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes, modifiers, or diagnosis codes.
    • New York Psychiatrist: Regularly review and update your knowledge of CPT and ICD-10 codes, ensuring you use the most accurate and specific codes for each patient encounter. Invest in coding training for your billing staff.

    Timely Filing Limits

    • Each insurance company sets a time limit for submitting claims. Claims submitted beyond this limit are often denied.
    • New York Psychiatrist: Be aware of the timely filing limits for each insurer you work with. Implement efficient billing and claims submission processes to ensure all deadlines are met. Keep a well-organized record of claim submissions.



Additional Denials In New York Psychiatrists


While the common denial reasons I mentioned previously apply to medical billing in New York, there are a few additional concerns and considerations that may be more relevant to healthcare providers in New York due to the state’s unique healthcare landscape and regulations:

      • Surprise Billing Laws: New York has implemented robust surprise billing protections. Psychiatrists must be aware of these laws, which aim to protect patients from unexpected out-of-network charges. Understanding the regulations and ensuring compliance is crucial to avoid claim denials.
      • No-Fault Insurance: New York is a “no-fault” insurance state for auto accidents. Psychiatrists may provide services related to auto accident injuries. Familiarity with the no-fault system, including billing requirements and timelines, is essential to prevent claim denials.
      • Workers’ Compensation: If you provide services to patients with work-related injuries in New York, you should know about the state’s Workers’ Compensation system. Properly documenting and coding services for workers’ compensation claims is crucial to avoid denials.
      • Medicaid Billing: New York’s Medicaid program has specific rules and requirements. Psychiatrists who serve Medicaid patients should stay informed about Medicaid policies, procedures, and reimbursement rates to prevent denials.
      • Managed Care Organizations (MCOs): Many Medicaid recipients in New York receive services through managed care organizations. Understanding the billing requirements and contracts with these MCOs is important to ensure timely payments.
      • Coordination of Benefits (COB): In cases where patients have multiple insurance plans, coordinating benefits accurately between primary and secondary insurance is vital. Please do so to avoid claim denials.
      • Prompt Payment Laws: New York has prompt payment laws that require insurers to pay clean claims within specific timeframes. Understanding these laws can help you enforce timely reimbursement.
      • HIPAA Compliance: New York enforces strict patient privacy regulations, including those related to HIPAA. Failure to maintain patient confidentiality can lead to claims denials, legal issues, and fines.

The Strategy Should Be Adopted To Avoid Denials

Avoiding claim denials is crucial for maintaining the financial health of your medical practice. To minimize denials, consider adopting the following strategies:

      • Collect and verify patient information accurately during the registration process. Verify insurance details, demographics, and contact information.
      • Verify patient eligibility and benefits before each visit. This helps understand coverage limitations and reduces the risk of denied claims due to coverage issues.
      • Document patient encounters thoroughly and accurately. Include all relevant medical information, diagnoses, treatment plans, and medical necessity for services rendered.
      • Use the most up-to-date CPT and ICD-10 codes and ensure they accurately reflect the services provided. Stay current with coding changes.
      • Use modifiers when necessary to provide additional information about a service or to indicate special circumstances. Pay attention to insurer-specific appendices that provide coding guidance.
      • Understand insurance requirements for prior authorizations and referrals. Ensure you obtain them when needed before providing services.
      • Submit claims promptly within the insurer’s specified timeframes to avoid timely filing denials. Create efficient billing processes to ensure timely submissions.
      • Use claim scrubbing software or services to check for errors before submitting claims. This can catch coding and formatting issues that may lead to denials.
      • Invest in training for your billing and coding staff to keep them up-to-date with industry changes and best practices.
      • Conduct regular internal audits of your billing processes to identify areas of improvement and ensure compliance with regulations.
      • To promptly address coding and documentation issues, foster clear communication between your billing team and clinical staff.
      • Don’t hesitate to appeal denials when you believe they are unjustified. Often, claims are denied for simple administrative reasons that can be resolved through appeals.
      • Keep abreast of changes in healthcare regulations and payer policies. Join professional associations, attend conferences, and engage in continuous education.
      • Consider outsourcing your medical billing to experts who specialize in healthcare billing. They have the expertise and resources to reduce denials.
      • Invest in practice management and electronic health record (EHR) systems with integrated billing capabilities to streamline billing processes and reduce errors.
      • Educate patients about their insurance coverage and financial responsibilities, including copays and deductibles. Clear communication can prevent misunderstandings that lead to denials.

Using the Correct CPT Code in Psychiatry To Minimizing The Denials Of Medical Billing

Coding for psychiatric services can be tricky, but let’s break it down into steps, especially for new and existing patients.


New Patients

When dealing with new patients in your office, you’ll typically use two types of CPT codes:

E/M Codes: These are used when evaluating a new medical issue. You can choose an E/M code based on the complexity of the medical decision-making or the total time you spent on the patient’s care during the visit. If you combine E/M services with a psychotherapy add-on code, remember to pick one based on medical decision-making, not just the time spent.

  • 99203: Typically used for a new patient with a straightforward issue that requires minimal evaluation.
  • 99213: Often used for established patients with a minor medical problem or follow-up.
  • 99245: Reserved for new patients with a complex medical issue requiring comprehensive evaluation. 

Psychiatric Diagnostic Evaluation Codes: These codes are for comprehensive diagnostic assessments. You should use these codes more than once if the initial evaluation takes extra time.

  • 90791: This code is used for an initial psychiatric diagnostic evaluation without medical services. It includes a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s history, mental status, and any necessary recommendations.


Established Patients

For patients you’ve seen before, you have some flexibility:

E/M Service with Psychotherapy: You can bill for an E/M service and a psychotherapy session, but it’s not mandatory for every visit. You should only bill for E/M services if you addressed and documented a separate medical issue during that visit.

For example, if you discussed the side effects of medication during the visit, you can bill for both an E/M visit and the psychotherapy session.

  • 90833: This is an example of an E/M service code when provided with psychotherapy for an established patient. It’s used when a separate medical issue is addressed during the visit.


Psychotherapy Only

However, suppose your patient has been stable on the same medication for a long time and comes in for psychotherapy without any new medical or medication concerns. In that case, you should bill only for the psychotherapy session. Billing for E/M is not appropriate in this case.

  • 90832: This code is for a 30-minute psychotherapy session, typically used for established patients. It does not include an E/M service. 

If you decide to bill for E/M, your documentation must clearly show that you actively managed or discussed a medical or medication problem separate from the psychotherapy service.



Appeals On Medical Billing For New York Psychiatrists

Appealing denied claims, especially coding-related ones, is essential to a healthcare provider’s revenue cycle management process. Here’s how to approach appeals, including coding-related issues:


Understand the Denial Reason

Before initiating an appeal, carefully review the explanation of benefits (EOB) or the denial notification from the payer. Understand why the claim was denied. Common coding-related denial reasons include incorrect codes, lack of medical necessity, and bundling issues.


Review Documentation

Examine the patient’s medical records and the documentation related to the denied claim. Ensure that the services provided align with the codes billed and that the medical necessity is well-documented.


Correct Errors

If you identify coding errors or documentation deficiencies, correct them promptly. This may involve resubmitting the claim with the corrected information.


Contact the Payer

Reach out to the payer’s provider relations or appeals department. Follow the insurer’s specific appeals process, which often involves submitting a formal appeal letter and supporting documentation.


Appeal Letter

Write a concise and well-structured appeal letter. Include the following components:

    • A clear statement of the reason for the appeal.
    • Identification of the patient, date of service, and claim details.
    • Explanation of why you believe the denial was incorrect, including any coding corrections or additional information.
    • Supporting documentation, such as medical records or guidelines, justifies the claim.
    • A request for reconsideration and a specific action you want the payer to take (e.g., overturn the denial and pay the claim).


Keep Records

Maintain meticulous records of all communications with the payer, including dates, names of representatives, and the content of conversations or emails.


Follow Up

Keep track of the appeal’s progress. Payers have specific timelines for responding to appeals. If you are still waiting for a response within the expected timeframe, follow up with the payer.


External Reviews

If your appeal is denied at the payer level, you may have the option to request an external review. This involves an independent third party reviewing the denial.


Stay Persistent

Continue to pursue the appeal through all available levels of review. Persistence can often lead to a successful resolution.


Seek Expert Assistance

If you encounter complex coding issues or face repeated denials, consider consulting with a certified coding specialist or a medical billing expert. They can provide valuable insights and support throughout the appeals process.


Using the Correct CPT Code in Psychiatry To Minimizing The Denials Of Medical Billing


When it comes to medical billing for psychiatrists in the dynamic landscape of New York, precision and expertise are paramount. That’s where BillingFreedom steps in as your trusted partner. We’ve honed our skills to perfection, ensuring your practice operates seamlessly, reducing denials to an astonishing less-than-1% rate. 


Why Choose BillingFreedom?

Choosing BillingFreedom as your medical billing partner means choosing excellence, precision, and peace of mind. We handle the billing intricacies so you can focus on providing top-notch psychiatric care to your patients. Here’s why us:

  1. Expertise Beyond Measure: BillingFreedom isn’t just a service; it’s a commitment to excellence. Our team comprises seasoned professionals who understand the intricacies of psychiatry billing in New York. We navigate the maze of regulations, codes, and compliance so you don’t have to.
  2. Denial Mitigation Masters: Denials can drain your resources. We’re proud to say that our expertise and rigorous processes result in a denial rate of less than 1%. But in the rare instance that a denial occurs, we’ve got that covered, too.
  3. Masters of the Appeal: When the unexpected happens, and denial does slip through the cracks, our team is well-versed in the art of appeals. We know how to craft compelling appeal letters backed by solid evidence to ensure your claims are rightfully paid.
  4. Tailored Solutions: We recognize that Every practice is unique. BillingFreedom offers customized solutions to match your specific needs. From patient data management to claim submission, your practice is covered.
  5. Efficiency and Timeliness: We understand the importance of timely reimbursements. Our streamlined billing processes ensure that your claims are submitted promptly, reducing delays and improving cash flow.
  6. Regulatory Compliance: New York’s healthcare landscape is highly regulated. BillingFreedom keeps your practice compliant with the latest regulations, protecting you from potential legal hassles.
  7. Cost-Effective: Our services are not just efficient but cost-effective, too. By outsourcing your billing to BillingFreedom, you save on administrative costs and gain the assurance of optimized revenue.

Unlock BillingFreedom today and experience the difference for yourself. Your practice deserves nothing less than the best.

For more details about our exceptional medical billing services, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email at or call us at +1 (855) 415-3472.

Your financial tranquility is our priority!


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