Denial code 31 means that the patient cannot be identified as our insured. This typically occurs when the insurance information provided by the patient does not match the information on file with the healthcare provider or insurance company. It indicates that the patient's coverage cannot be verified, leading to the denial of the claim.
Common causes of code 31 are:
- Incorrect insurance information: The patient's insurance information provided during registration or billing may be incorrect or outdated, leading to the inability to identify them as our insured. This could include errors in policy numbers, group numbers, or subscriber information.
- Insurance coverage termination: The patient's insurance coverage may have been terminated or expired at the time of service. This could be due to non-payment of premiums, policy cancellation, or reaching the maximum coverage limit.
- Coordination of benefits (COB) issues: If the patient has multiple insurance policies, there may be a coordination of benefits issue. This means that the primary insurance carrier has not been correctly identified or billed first, resulting in the denial code.
- Incomplete or missing patient information: Insufficient or missing patient information, such as name, date of birth, or social security number, can make it challenging to verify insurance coverage and identify the patient as our insured.
- Out-of-network provider: If the healthcare provider is not in the patient's insurance network, the claim may be denied. This can occur when the patient seeks services from a specialist or facility that is not covered by their insurance plan.
- Pre-authorization or referral requirements: Certain medical procedures or services may require pre-authorization or a referral from the primary care physician. If these requirements are not met, the claim may be denied.
- Duplicate claims: Submitting duplicate claims for the same service can result in denials. This may happen unintentionally due to system errors or lack of proper claim management processes.
- Timely filing limits: Insurance companies have specific timeframes within which claims must be submitted. If the claim is not filed within the designated timeframe, it may be denied with code 31.
- Billing errors: Any errors in the billing process, such as incorrect coding, mismatched procedure and diagnosis codes, or incomplete documentation, can lead to claim denials with code 31.
- Non-covered services: Some services or procedures may not be covered by the patient's insurance plan. If the claim includes non-covered services, it may be denied with code 31.
It is important for healthcare providers to address these common causes to minimize claim denials and ensure timely reimbursement for services rendered.
Ways to mitigate code 31 include:
- Verify insurance information: Ensure that accurate and up-to-date insurance information is collected from the patient during the registration process. This includes verifying the patient's insurance coverage, policy number, and any other relevant details. Implementing a robust insurance verification process can help prevent denials related to patient identification.
- Improve data entry accuracy: Train staff members responsible for entering patient information to be diligent and accurate. Mistakes in data entry, such as misspelling the patient's name or incorrectly inputting the insurance policy number, can lead to denials. Implementing data validation checks and double-checking the accuracy of entered information can help reduce errors.
- Enhance communication with payers: Establish effective lines of communication with insurance payers to resolve any issues related to patient identification promptly. This can involve reaching out to the payer's representative to clarify any discrepancies or providing additional documentation to support the patient's identification as an insured individual.
- Educate patients on insurance coverage: Proactively educate patients about their insurance coverage and the importance of providing accurate information. This can be done through patient education materials, online resources, or during the registration process. Encourage patients to review their insurance cards and notify the healthcare provider of any changes or updates to their coverage.
- Implement technology solutions: Utilize technology solutions such as electronic health record (EHR) systems or revenue cycle management software that have built-in checks to validate patient insurance information. These systems can help identify potential issues with patient identification and reduce the likelihood of denials related to this code.
- Conduct regular audits: Perform regular audits of patient insurance information to identify any discrepancies or errors. This can help catch and rectify issues before they result in denials. Audits can be conducted internally or outsourced to third-party vendors specializing in revenue cycle management.
By implementing these strategies, healthcare providers can mitigate code 31 denials and improve their revenue cycle management processes.
The steps to address code 31 are as follows:
- Verify patient information: Double-check the patient's demographic and insurance details to ensure accuracy. This includes their name, date of birth, insurance policy number, and any other relevant information.
- Contact the patient: Reach out to the patient directly to confirm their insurance coverage. This can be done through a phone call or email. Request any necessary documentation or updated insurance information from the patient if needed.
- Review insurance eligibility: Contact the insurance company to verify the patient's coverage. Provide them with the patient's information and ask for clarification on any discrepancies. Ensure that the patient is indeed covered under the specified insurance policy.
- Investigate coordination of benefits: If the patient has multiple insurance policies, investigate the coordination of benefits to determine which insurance should be billed first. This may involve contacting both insurance companies to gather the necessary information.
- Update patient records: Make any necessary updates to the patient's records, including their insurance information, to ensure accurate billing and claims submission in the future.
- Appeal if necessary: If you believe that the denial is incorrect or unjustified, gather any supporting documentation and submit an appeal to the insurance company. Follow their specific guidelines for appeals and provide a clear explanation of why the denial should be overturned.
- Educate staff: Use this denial as an opportunity to educate your staff on the importance of accurate patient identification and insurance verification. Implement any necessary training or processes to prevent similar denials in the future.
By following these steps, you can effectively address code 31 and work towards resolving the issue of the patient not being identified as our insured.