To accept, or not to accept...that is the question.
In the past, accepting health insurance was a question of "Is this worth my time and effort?" because of limited reimbursement and the upfront time investment to get credentialed and contracted with different health plans. And let's not forget about all the extra time you'll need to spend performing client eligibility checks and submitting successful claims to obtain your reimbursements!
Today, there is an unprecedented trend in health plans that are willing to cover dietitian-based nutrition counseling across more medical conditions and through new preventive care guidelines. We sat down with our partner Healthy Bytes to find out how founder Amy Roberts is simplifying the entire process for dietitians to help them establish a business foundation to grow their practice.
Because, you know, who wants to listen to bad hold music?
What brought you to what you're doing at Healthy Bytes?
I've been working in the nutrition field for the last decade to create tools to make nutritional counseling easier for providers. We decided to focus on billing after we saw all the exciting changes in insurance reimbursement over the last few years.
As of 2015, nutritional counseling is an essential benefit in 26 states and widely covered even in states that don't have it as an essential benefit. The new emphasis on preventative services makes it possible to get reimbursed for weight management, disordered eating, and many other areas that were hard to get paid for in the past. The areas that were traditionally covered such as diabetes and kidney disease have also seen improvements to benefits with many patients getting unlimited visits.
We realized that most of the tools that are available to providers are hard to use and require a lot of specialized knowledge. We knew we could make the process easier, so that dietitians could focus on their patients.
How have you seen insurance improve the client base of the RDs you work with?
We have seen RDs grow from having to have a full-time day job to being able to sustain a private practice. Being a provider at a variety of insurance companies increases the number of patients you can see, often at no cost to the patient.
Many RDs don't know how to be credentialed or find the process too complicated and slow. How can you help?
We provide two things: (1) We will send you resources to help guide you through the process (for free!) or (2) we can do all the heavy lifting for you! You tell us who you want to work with, and give us a little info about you, and we will take care of the rest. You'll get a chance to review all the documents, but we will fill them out for you and make sure they are processed correctly. This saves you a lot of time (up to 20 hours!).
Staying in control of their rates is one of the reasons why RDs may choose to opt out of taking insurance, is it possible to negotiate the rates with health plans?
You can still set your rate. We can help you understand what is competitive for your area, and when possible, negotiate for a higher reimbursement level. Many RDs find that the reimbursement levels are competitive with what they were charging self-pay clients.
What's it like to file for claims? Do RDs have to know a lot of codes?
With the traditional method you had to become an expert in the nuisances of billing. We are working to take this burden off of you. It takes less than a minute to file a claim on our system. Nearly everything is in plain English- no coding necessary.