Analyzing Claim Denial Trends for 2020

Hospitals are receiving more claim denials from payers, with the average rate increasing by 23 percent in 2020 compared to 2016, according to a research report conducted by Change Healthcare. The analysis includes 102 million hospital transactions valued at $407 billion in total charges across more than 1,500 U.S. hospitals. Since 2016, the denial rate for hospital claims has been increasing steadily but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this upward trajectory, pushing the denial rate up from 20 percent in the second quarter. To educate the providers, we shared this analysis of the Cause of denials trends for 2020, as most of these claim denials are potentially avoidable.

Top Cause of Denials

For the year 2020, 26.60 percent of total denied claims are due to a lack of eligibility and registration. Eligibility and registration have been a top denial for the last few years but its percentage has spiked in last year. Claim denials due to eligibility and registration error constitute a one-fourth portion of total claim denials. It signifies the importance of a strong front-end team that is good at eligibility and benefits verification. A high percentage of missing or invalid claim data signifies the importance of the back-end team whose contribution is neglected by saying it’s a data entry process. 

Cause of Denials Percentage
Registration / Eligibility 26.60%
Missing or Invalid Claim Data 17.20%
Prior Authorization/ Certification 11.60%
Service Not Covered 10.60%
Medical Documentation Requested 9.20%
Medical Necessity 6.60%
Unknown 6.40%
Untimely Filling 5.40%
Medical Coding 4.80%
Provider Eligibility 0.90%
Avoidable Care 0.70%

Breakout of Top Three Denial Causes

The top three denial reason constitutes more than 50 percent of overall claim denial reasons so we provided a breakout of these top three denial reasons. Most of the time front-end team fails to get secondary insurance information and fails to assign benefits. Denials caused due to benefits maximum and plan coverage are signs of absence of eligibility and benefits verification process. 

Registration/Eligibility (26.6%)
Coordination of Benefits 41.5%
Benefit Maximum 28.4%
Plan Coverage 23.3%
Other 6.8%

Claim data includes patient demographics, insurance information, diagnosis codes, procedure codes, modifiers, date of service, rendering provider information, and billing information. Wrong inputs in any of these claim fields will lead to claim denial.   

Missing or Invalid Claim Data (17.2%)
Unspecified Billing Issue 73.2%
Missing/Invalid EOB 17.5%
Other 9.3%

Successful prior authorization or pre-certification requires submitting authorization/ certification requests with required documents. With prior authorization or pre-certification request, the payer should be convinced about medical necessity. 

Authorization/Pre-Certification (11.6%)
Invalid Authorization 61.2%
Authorization Denied 25.9%
Services Exceed Authorization 7.5%
Other 5.4%

Reasons for Increase in Denials

As we are analyzing claim denial trends for 2020, let’s look at the major reasons for the rapid increase in claim denials. 

  • Lack of resources: Lack of experienced resources is a prime reason for the increase in denials. As medical billing and coding are handled by non-experts, billing complex clinical cases meets with denials. You must have a trained team who has the expertise to appeal the denial and who has the ability to conduct root cause analysis. 
  • Staff attrition and training: Tight labor market impacts the hiring and retaining of qualified staff, finding and retaining them is a big challenge for any healthcare institute. The complexity of denials requires robust training and education programs, not all healthcare institutes can provide the required training. 
  • Growing denials backlog: Your staff may face challenges of increasing denial backlogs due to timely filing deadlines. 

MedicalBillersandCoders (MBC) can help you too. Our team of expert medical billers and coders can help to streamline your billing and coding processes like eligibility and benefits verification, prior authorizations, charge entry, claim submissions, payment posting, denial handling, accounts receivable management, medical coding, and provider credentialing. To learn more about our commitment to excellence and performance for medical practices and healthcare providers, contact us at / 888-357-3226