Industry voices—ensuring premium revenue accuracy during COVID-19

FierceHealthPayer features an article by Jeff Martin, Vice President of Eligibility Operations at Discovery Health Partners. The article highlights the importance of making sure MA plans receive the revenue they deserve in order to ensure a stable financial picture during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to read the full article.

Jeffrey MartinIndustry voices—ensuring premium revenue accuracy during COVID-19
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Enhancing premium restoration in four steps

Today, more than 22 million seniors and people with disabilities choose a Medicare Advantage plan, and enrollment is projected to increase to an all-time high of 24.4 million this year1. Do you have insight into how much revenue your plan might be losing in underpaid premiums?

Ensuring accurate premium payments for your Medicare Advantage members requires the right people, processes, and technology to identify your potential for premium restoration. It all starts with data. By integrating data sources and viewing eligibility data holistically, you can easily identify members with the greatest propensity for inaccuracy: those requiring Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) validation and those diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Here are four steps you can take to capture underpaid premiums:

#1: Identify members with premium restoration potential

The undisputed first step in capturing underpaid premiums is identifying those members with premium restoration potential. Our experience shows that an average of 4% of Medicare Advantage members have open MSP records, and 50% of those records have premium restoration potential. By identifying members with MSP or ESRD, your plan can ensure those members are accounted for in MMRs and in payments from CMS.

#2: Improve process efficiencies

When analyzing open MSP and ESRD occurrences, your plan needs to identify and prioritize those that require investigation. By allocating scarce resources to the activities that will have the greatest impact on the bottom line, you can ensure that dollars and staff time are spent wisely and efficiently.

#3: Monitor the financial impact

As premium restoration becomes more complex and when resources are limited, sophisticated monitoring is needed to achieve the results your plan expects. With a proactive approach to monitoring premium restorations, you will want to forecast how many dollars will be added to the premium check, uncover whether you have received every month of restored premiums, and maintain an audit trail to validate the outcomes and steps taken to correct inaccuracies.

#4: Maintain ongoing premium restoration activities

Given the impact it can have on your bottom line, the premium restoration process must be maintained on an ongoing basis. By ensuring payment accuracy throughout the year, you can capitalize on significant revenue opportunities month after month, year after year.

Discovery’s data analytics combined with our deep understanding of CMS eligibility rules can help your plan unlock the hidden value in your data and collect the full value of premiums owed.

Discovery Health PartnersEnhancing premium restoration in four steps
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eBook: Restoring millions for your Medicare Advantage plan

eBook: Restoring millions for your Medicare Advantage plan

Correctly paid Medicare Advantage premiums are a critical source of revenue for many health plans

Unlock the hidden value in your data to identify root causes of errors and collect the full value of premiums owed to your plan.

Download our eBook and find out how a Premium Restoration strategy can help you:

  • Identify members with premium restoration potential
  • Improve process efficiencies
  • Monitor the financial impact
  • Maintain ongoing premium restoration activities

Discovery Health PartnerseBook: Restoring millions for your Medicare Advantage plan
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Restoring Medicare premium revenue during COVID-19

Medicare Advantage enrollment and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and individuals who have health conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease may be at a higher risk for complications.

Your Medicare Advantage plan relies on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) for information regarding other health insurance and certain health conditions. When this information contains errors, it affects your bottom line. For many Medicare Advantage plans, the losses can be more than they realize.

What can your Medicare Advantage plan do to maximize its financial performance during these challenging times?

You can begin to recover the premium dollars owed to your health plan by performing a retrospective review of eligibility data. Going back seven years, you can review your monthly membership report (MMR) files to look for indications that the health plan is owed additional premium reimbursement for certain members.

What are the top reasons for missed premium restoration cues?

There are several cues that a plan may miss when it comes to premium restoration:

  • Incomplete data aggregation from the plan’s IT department
  • Inaccurate member questionnaire data
  • Section 111 reporting inaccuracies by commercial plans
  • Inability to completely or accurately validate a member’s other insurance
  • ECRS Web rejections that should actually result in premium reimbursements

Finding the causes of these missed cues can be difficult. Would you even know if your IT department is sending you incomplete data? What if you cannot get another insurer to validate eligibility information for a member? If CMS denies a seemingly legitimate eligibility update, do you know how to overturn that?

How Discovery can help

Discovery Health Partners can strengthen your premium integrity efforts by taking a closer look at Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) validation and members with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). A recent analysis by S&P Global Ratings states that COVID-19 will end up costing U.S. health insurers more than $90 billion in medical claims.1 More than ever, it is important for plans to chart a course for transformative action that not only protects their premium revenue but also protects their workforce. With more individuals working from home and being allocated to support critical COVID-19 initiatives, Discovery is ready to continue working diligently on behalf of our health plan clients to identify eligibility issues and premium reductions.

We have helped clients restore millions with our Medicare Secondary Payer Validation solution:

  • $2.1 million for a 20,000-member regional plan
  • $16 million for a 30,000-member Midwest plan
  • $5.7 million for a 200,000-member Blues plan

In addition, our ESRD Premium Restoration solution has helped clients restore:

  • $6.5 million for a 160,000-member Medicare Advantage plan across a two-year engagement
  • $4 million for a 230,000-member Medicare Advantage plan seven months after implementation
  • $3 million for a 100,000-member Medicare Advantage plan in 12 months

The amount of potential restoration opportunity is a function of four parameters:

  1. Successful validation of inaccurate records
  2. Number of months of restoration opportunity for each incorrect record
  3. Average monthly restoration amount
  4. CMS acceptance rate of corrections submitted

Contact Discovery Health Partners today to find out how we can help you with your premium restoration efforts as your health plan navigates the impact of COVID-19.

Access the latest COVID-19 information and guidelines from CMS.

Jeffrey MartinRestoring Medicare premium revenue during COVID-19
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Infographic: Fixing payment integrity at the source

It’s a known fact that improper payments abound in healthcare. Given the effect that eligibility data can have on claims payments, a connected payment integrity approach is essential. Often, challenges arise from multiple sources of data, conflicting or inaccurate data, data integration challenges, manual workflows, multiple reporting systems, and more.

When eligibility errors occur, they affect many payment integrity areas such as coordination of benefits (COB), subrogation, and Medicare secondary payer (MSP) validation. Failing to address these issues leads to incorrectly paid claims, improper reimbursements, or claims that shouldn’t be paid at all—costing your plan millions.

Infographic: Fixing payment integrity at the source

Find out the top three causes of eligibility errors and learn how a connected payment integrity approach can help.

Discovery Health PartnersInfographic: Fixing payment integrity at the source
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ESRD: Finding and restoring underpaid CMS premiums in five steps

Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollment is on the rise, helping to boost health plans’ annual profits to $35.7 billion in 2019.1 These enrollment increases are expected to continue in 2020, so it’s critical to make sure CMS properly pays you for all your MA members.

Especially when it comes to members with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), the final stage of chronic kidney disease that requires patients to undergo costly dialysis or kidney transplants. Members with ESRD account for a disproportionate amount of medical expenses. Experience shows that health plans are underpaid an average of $60,000 in CMS premiums for each misidentified or inappropriately documented ESRD member. Without a strategy to identify these members, your MA plan could be missing out on millions of additional premium dollars from CMS.

CMS allows health plans to identify, investigate, and restore up to 84 months of underpaid premiums for members with ESRD. Your plan maintains responsibility for identifying those ESRD members and ensuring data is validated and corrected according to CMS guidelines. It can be a challenge to sift through CMS monthly membership reports (MMRs), plan eligibility files, and claims data to find any potentially underpaid premiums.

However, with a systematic approach, plans can gain control of ESRD member statuses and restore underpaid premiums. Let’s look at five ways you can take control of your ESRD premiums.

#1: Explore the hidden value in your data

Your data is critical to restoring underpaid ESRD premiums. Potential missing flags can be hidden in various, disparate data sources and take years to uncover. You will want to dedicate resources and analytics to bring these data sources together and surface anomalies. By regularly combing through MMR, eligibility, and claims data going as far back as 84 months, you can identify likely ESRD members that require further investigation.

#2: Investigate cases that show opportunity

After using your data to identify possible opportunities for ESRD premium restoration, you will want to investigate each case to determine what funds may be owed to you. With the right investigation process, you can determine the root-cause issues for each ESRD member you identified. Then outline the right process you need to follow to address the issues with the appropriate submitting authorities.

#3: Remediate the case

Once you have properly investigated the possible ESRD case, you will want to use that information in your remediation efforts. Your investigation will have uncovered the root cause of the problem, inaccurate or incomplete submissions, and any inconsistencies in the data. In your remediation efforts, you will use the right method of outreach and coordinate with dialysis centers, CMS, or other third parties to ensure the information is corrected and updates are confirmed.

#4: Restore underpaid premiums

Your investigation and remediation efforts will have given you the information you need to seek premium restoration. At this point, you will have corrected the information and submitted it to CMS for restoration. As soon as that has been done, you will want to diligently track and reconcile restored premiums and monitor future premiums for accuracy for as long as it takes to make sure revenue is fully realized.

#5: Monitor premiums

After you have worked to restore premiums, you will want to continue to ensure that all ESRD members are identified. Whether you review data on a monthly basis or do a health check twice a year, you will want to ensure that identified ESRD member statuses continue to be reported accurately and that correct premiums continue to be paid.

Plans that take a systematic approach to analyzing and reconciling their ESRD membership can successfully restore underpaid premiums and ensure accurate premium payments going forward. Many plans find that partnering with an experienced ESRD premium restoration vendor to focus on the things outside the plan’s control can help maximize results.

 

Contact Discovery Health Partners today to find out how we can help you restore underpaid premiums for members with ESRD.

Fierce Healthcare, “Health insurers’ profits topped $35B last year. Medicare Advantage is the common thread,” February 24, 2020.
Jeffrey MartinESRD: Finding and restoring underpaid CMS premiums in five steps
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Fixing payment integrity at the source

“New year, new me.” Seems like we hear this at the beginning of every year and hold on to the promise of moving on from the past and setting new goals for the future. Likewise, healthcare organizations are kicking off 2020 by charting new paths to address old problems and expanding into new initiatives to stay ahead of the competition.

Priorities such as increasing member satisfaction, provider relationships, and regulatory compliance remain top of mind for many health plans, which makes it a good time to take a fresh look at your payment integrity strategies and resources. Now is the time to evaluate how well your plan is maximizing recovery opportunities, improving cost avoidance strategies, and exploring premium restoration possibilities. To do this, you need to start at the source of your payment integrity challenges: eligibility data.

The impact of eligibility errors

It’s a known fact that improper payments abound in healthcare, many of which stem from eligibility errors made as a result of multiple data sources, outdated technology, manual processes, and members with other insurance coverage. When eligibility errors occur, they affect many payment integrity areas such as coordination of benefits (COB), subrogation, and Medicare secondary payer (MSP) validation. Failing to address these issues leads to incorrectly paid claims, improper reimbursements, or claims that shouldn’t be paid at all—costing your plan millions.

According to Gartner, billions of dollars are spent every year in improper claims payments across commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid lines of business. Gartner research states, “Payer CIOs must get proactive and leapfrog current performance by focusing on prospective payment integrity capabilities.” With this in mind, what can you do to strengthen your payment integrity approach?1

Identify inaccurate eligibility data

When taking a close look at eligibility data, your plan will want to determine which claims may have been paid incorrectly as a result of inaccuracies. We estimate that 20% of a plan’s membership will have other insurance, and of that 20%, the other insurance will be primary 17.5% of the time. For a 200,000-member plan, this represents nearly $5.4 million in incorrectly paid claims. When statistics like this are uncovered, the plan quickly realizes how important it is to keep its eligibility data in check.

Determine a cost-avoidance strategy

Avoiding improper payments is a core tenet of any payment integrity strategy. Accurate and trusted eligibility data plays a key role. We estimate that the same 200,000-member plan could save over $13.4 million by avoiding incorrect payments. With the right cost avoidance strategies founded on accurate eligibility data, the plan stands to see a significant impact to its bottom line.

Look beyond dollars and cents

When evaluating your payment integrity strategy, you will want to think beyond dollars and cents. Quality eligibility data will have a positive effect on administrative efficiency, member satisfaction, and provider relations.

By avoiding improper payments in the first place, you avoid the need to rebill, saving you and your staff valuable time and energy that might be channeled toward other payment integrity initiatives.

Member satisfaction is a key priority for any health plan. In fact, the member experience drives performance on CAHPS (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), which is a key driver of Star ratings. Eligibility data drives a diverse number of systems and processes including registration, enrollment, care provision, wellness, and customer care. All of these areas influence your members’ experiences with your plan.

Lastly, providers depend on prompt, accurate payment. When claims are denied as a result of recurrent eligibility issues, payer-provider relationships already burdened by administrative complexity are further strained. Ensuring accurate eligibility data and determinations not only improves efficiencies, it also helps to accelerate reimbursements, greatly improving relationships and alignment.

Consider a connected payment integrity approach

Given the effect that eligibility data can have on payments, you will want to consider a connected payment integrity approach and address any gaps in your technology. Often, challenges arise from multiple sources of data, conflicting or inaccurate data, data integration challenges, manual workflows, multiple reporting systems, and more. By creating a technology environment that can support connected payment integrity functions (e.g., claims recovery, subrogation, and COB), business managers and IT can come together in their thinking and create a single, trusted source of eligibility data.

 

Contact Discovery Health Partners today to find out how we can support your payment integrity initiatives in 2020 and beyond.

1Gartner, “U.S. Healthcare Payer CIOs Must Adopt Prospective Payment Integrity to Thwart Improper Claims Payment and Fraud,” February 13, 2018.
Jeffrey MartinFixing payment integrity at the source
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