Solving the ‘Secondary Insurance’ puzzle at your medical practice


Care providers encounter patients with more than one level of health insurance coverage – a secondary insurance to complement primary insurance. While secondary insurance has considerably reduced patients’ out-of-pocket expenses and facilitated treatment plans outside primary coverage, billing for two-levels of insurance coverage has not been that easy. Even as certain secondaries to Medicare are enabled with automatic crossover to Blue Cross and Blue Shield and require no additional pursuance, majority of big and small private insurance plans continue to be unlinked with Medicare or Medicaid primary coverage. It is this isolation of secondary plans from primary that makes billing secondary insurance more difficult.

Irrespective of whether primary insurance is automatically linked to secondary insurance, it is the responsibility of care providers to arrange for co-ordination. Often, it is the insurance verification, billing, and follow up department that takes up the responsibility of coordination of benefits. Strangely, a large of proportion of relatively smaller secondary bills is never pursued or delayed till they become ineligible to be reimbursed. The collective value of such omitted secondary bills may be thousands of dollars per physicians. Therefore, with so much of hard-earned practice revenues going unrealized, physicians need to investigate and formulate corrective measures to follow up and realize secondary bills in time.

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  • One of the primary steps to monitor secondary bills is to have access to your patient accounts and system reports that show balances and your aging out Secondary Insurance Account Receivables (A/Rs). If you see certain bills approaching or just about to cross 90-day limit, it should be alerted immediately to your billing department for immediate follow up with secondary insurance carriers.
  • Second, more than alerting your billing coordinating department of aging secondary bills, you should try to extract reasons for delay in reimbursements, and advice your staff for corrective measures based on the facts responsible for such delay.
  • Third, once you have found out aging secondary bills, and advised your billing department to follow up with requisite modification or proof, it is important that they are pursued within the stipulated time limit, usually within 90-days from the date of billing.
  • Last, it is always good to have a periodic review of your billing practices, particularly secondary insurance bills. Periodicity may range depending on the volume of secondary bills or ideally once every month. Review is an apt way to monitor the progress on secondary claims, and keep your practice’s financials healthy.
  • In addition to challenges mentioned above, secondary insurance may have policy-specific, provider-specific, and region-specific demands. And, if you happen to be a care provider dealing with multiple insurance networks and operating across multiple clinical destinations in the U.S., you may have to be conversant with these diverse requirements. It is these multiple challenges that warrant the intervention of an external medical agency in your internal medical billing practices. has traditionally been care providers’ first choice in medical billing and coding; care providers of varied sizes and disciplines across the 50 states in the U.S. have found our services catalytic to their clinical and operational efficiency. And, at a time when they need their secondary billing mediated more than ever before, our resourcefulness – competent billing professionals with credentials in maximizing secondary insurance reimbursements – in secondary billing should be comforting.

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