rcm glossary


Exclusion is the process of identifying and removing claims that do not meet the criteria for reimbursement, ensuring compliance and accurate revenue capture.

Accelerate your revenue cycle

Boost patient experience and your bottom line by automating patient cost estimates, payer underpayment detection, and contract optimization in one place.

Get a Demo

What is Exclusion in Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management (RCM)?

Exclusion, in the context of healthcare revenue cycle management (RCM), refers to the process of identifying and excluding certain services, procedures, or diagnoses from being reimbursed by insurance payers. These exclusions are typically based on specific criteria set by the payer, such as medical necessity, coverage limitations, or regulatory guidelines.

Exclusions play a crucial role in the revenue cycle management process as they directly impact the reimbursement rates and overall financial performance of healthcare organizations. By understanding and effectively managing exclusions, healthcare providers can ensure accurate billing, minimize claim denials, and optimize revenue generation.

Key Differences between Exclusion, Denial, and Rejection

While the terms exclusion, denial, and rejection are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand their distinct meanings within the healthcare revenue cycle management context.

Exclusion: As mentioned earlier, exclusion refers to the deliberate decision by insurance payers to not reimburse certain services, procedures, or diagnoses. These exclusions are typically based on predefined criteria and guidelines set by the payer.

Denial: Denial, on the other hand, occurs when a claim is submitted for reimbursement but is not paid by the insurance payer. Denials can happen due to various reasons, such as incomplete or inaccurate documentation, coding errors, lack of medical necessity, or non-compliance with payer policies. Denials can be appealed and resubmitted for reconsideration.

Rejection: Rejection refers to the initial refusal of a claim by the insurance payer due to errors or missing information in the claim submission. Unlike denials, rejections are typically related to technical issues, such as invalid or missing patient information, incorrect coding formats, or incomplete claim forms. Rejected claims need to be corrected and resubmitted to the payer.

It is important to differentiate between these terms as they represent different stages and reasons for non-reimbursement. By understanding the specific cause of non-payment, healthcare organizations can take appropriate actions to address the issue and optimize their revenue cycle.

Examples of Exclusions in Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management

To provide a better understanding of exclusions in healthcare revenue cycle management, let's explore a few examples:

1. Cosmetic Procedures: Many insurance payers exclude coverage for cosmetic procedures that are performed solely for aesthetic purposes. These procedures, such as facelifts, breast augmentation, or liposuction, are considered elective and not medically necessary. Therefore, healthcare providers cannot expect reimbursement for such services unless they meet specific criteria, such as reconstructive surgery after an accident or for medical reasons.

2. Experimental or Investigational Treatments: Insurance payers often exclude coverage for treatments or procedures that are considered experimental or investigational. These exclusions aim to ensure that only proven and evidence-based treatments are reimbursed. Healthcare providers need to carefully review payer policies and guidelines to determine if a particular treatment falls under this exclusion.

3. Non-Covered Services: Insurance payers may have specific exclusions for certain services or procedures that they do not cover under their plans. For example, some payers may exclude coverage for fertility treatments, weight loss programs, or alternative therapies. Healthcare providers need to be aware of these exclusions to inform patients and avoid claim denials.

4. Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance payers often exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, which are medical conditions that existed before the start of the insurance policy. These exclusions aim to prevent individuals from obtaining insurance coverage after already having a known medical condition. Healthcare providers need to verify patient insurance coverage and ensure that services related to pre-existing conditions are appropriately documented and billed.

5. Non-Compliance with Payer Policies: Insurance payers may have specific policies and guidelines that healthcare providers must adhere to in order to receive reimbursement. Failure to comply with these policies, such as obtaining prior authorization for certain procedures or using specific diagnostic codes, can result in exclusions. It is crucial for healthcare organizations to stay updated with payer policies and ensure compliance to avoid claim denials.

These examples highlight the diverse nature of exclusions in healthcare revenue cycle management. Understanding these exclusions and their implications is essential for accurate billing, effective denial management, and maximizing revenue generation.


Exclusions are a critical aspect of healthcare revenue cycle management, impacting the reimbursement rates and financial performance of healthcare organizations. By understanding the concept of exclusion and differentiating it from denial and rejection, healthcare providers can effectively navigate the complex landscape of payer policies and guidelines.

Creating a comprehensive glossary of terms related to healthcare revenue cycle management, such as exclusion, can serve as a valuable resource for healthcare professionals, revenue cycle teams, and individuals seeking to enhance their understanding of this field.

Get paid in full by bringing clarity to your revenue cycle

Full Page Background