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Do Insurance Companies Cover Teletherapy?


In recent years, largely in part to advances in technology, the Internet, and security when connecting online, people are starting to request to have access to their mental health professionals via teletherapy either through Skype, other live services, or over the telephone with video enabled through their computer.


Insurance Companies Cover Teletherapy

For psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, the problem with honoring teletherapy requests is whether insurance companies will reimburse the costs of sessions. Unfortunately, there are still many insurance providers who could potentially deny claims submitted for teletherapy services.


In some cases, the individual has to submit their own claims and pay for the services out of their own pocket. Further complicating the matter are the recent changes in CPT billing codes and how to correctly submit claims to those insurance providers that reimburse for teletherapy sessions. Even still, the benefits of teletherapy for people who live in areas where there are shortages of qualified mental health practices opens up opportunities to get the help they need.


Many states’ governments are also starting to realize the benefits teletherapy can provide people. Currently there are sixteen states where insurance companies are required to cover teletherapy sessions. The number of states adapting and updating their state-mandated insurance coverage for this service is expected to continue to increase in the future.


In cases where insurance companies will not cover the costs of teletherapy for some people, they might be willing to pay for sessions themselves. The costs for sessions conducted in this manner offer the same benefits of face-to-face sessions, along with:


  • Flexibility in Session Scheduling
  • Perfect for People Who Are Home-Bound
  • Provides the Option for Therapists to Continue to See Patients Even if They Move
  • Allows People to Obtain Mental Health Services from the Comfort of Their Home


Before you start conducting and implementing teletherapy services at your practice, there are several things you need to do to protect your patients and you. First, check with the insurance companies you have contracts with to see if they provide reimbursements for this type of treatment.


Next, confirm with your mental health billing service what billing codes they would need to use, and the current rates you would be paid. In addition, take the time to verify teletherapy sessions are compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and other federal laws. The last thing you want to experience is being investigated and fined for HIPAA violations which could range from $100 to as much as $1.5 million.


Currently, there are more than fifty different teleconferencing and video services that are HIPAA-compliant. Before launching teletherapy services, take the time to confirm your preferred video service is HIPPA-compliant, which is often a great selling point for people who might be interested in conducting sessions via videoconferencing over the Internet.


For assistance with filing claims, claims processing, resolving rejections, collections, and more, contact the experts at Psychiatric Billing Associates by phoning 800-650-6334, extension 947, today.


Mental Health Billing Service


Benefits of Using Psychiatric Billing Services


Whether you are starting your own practice or have been in practice for years, there are several benefits of outsourcing your psychiatric billing to a qualified billing service  like Psychiatric Billing Associates. In recent years, there have been changes to cpt diagnostic codes, billing processes, billing forms, and the complexity required when submitting claims. In addition, further reforms and changes are expected in the future.


Psychiatric Billing

  1. Access to expertise and specialized mental health billing skills. Billing services that specialize in only mental health billing ensure claims are completed accurately and correctly the first time. They understand correct coding, and are familiar with the third party and managed care companies that handle mental health reimbursement. Billing expertise is especially important when filing claims for neuropsych, academic testing, ECT, EAP and Hospital based services.
  2. A reduction to your practice’s operating costs. You do not have to waste precious time recruiting, hiring, and training staff to perform billing operations, nor investing in the latest billing software applications. An experienced billing service takes care of recruiting the best employees and software, resulting in paying less in the long run for collecting your payments for services rendered.
  3. Fewer headaches and more control over your practice. By outsourcing your billing, you do not have to deal with the red tape, rejections, complications, and other stressful aspects of billing procedures. Rather, you are freed up to concentrate on the needs of your patients, providing them higher quality of care.
  4. Eliminates having to learn the complexities of medical billing. Even if you do not perform your own billing directly, you do not have to worry about whether your staff is spending sufficient time staying on top of the latest updates and changes.
  5. Always know what medical billing codes are relevant for your services and treatments. Medical billing codes are constantly being updated, changed, and even deleted. Your billing service will keep you informed of these changes and help you determine which codes are the most appropriate to use for your practice to reduce the number of rejected claims.
  6. Quicker reimbursement times. Mental health billing services submit claims on a timely basis, deal with resolving rejected claims quickly, and other such issues, so you can get paid faster and improve cash flow. They will also submit as many claims electronically to providers, who accept electronic claim submissions, thereby decreasing claims processing times.
  7. Affordable rates. Qualified billing services will only charge a percentage of the amount of money they actually collect, not the total amount billed. As a result, they work harder to help increase your collections rate. Not only does this mean they will earn more, but also helps increase your revenues and cash flowing into your practice. With the increase in revenues and decrease in overall operational costs, most practices can easily justify the billing service fees.

To discover how Psychiatric Billing Associates can help your mental health practice, contact us today by calling 800-650-6334, extension 24. We offer customizable solutions and provide the assistance you need with claims, processing, collections, and more.


Psychiatric Billing Services

Stalled Mental Health Bill Finally Passed by the House


In 2012, United States Representative, Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania), who is also a clinical psychologist, introduced Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act (House Bill H.R. 2646) to reform the mental health system and increase the amount of federal funding for various mental health programs. While Murphy’s efforts have been ongoing, the bill has been delayed on several occasions for various reasons along the way.


House Bill H.R. 2646

However, with the recent string of shootings by individuals in major cities, including those that recently took place in Orlando and Dallas, the House finally decided to move ahead with its first steps in reforming federally funded mental health programs. It is worth noting the reforms have not occurred for several decades.


House Bill H.R. 2646 was co-sponsored by U.S. Representative, Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama). Byrne’s support of the bills was largely related to his grandfather being killed by a person suffering from mental illness. The bill was modified in efforts to initial changes to the system and passed the House with a majority vote of 422 to 2 on July 6, 2016. The objective of the bill is to help ensure those with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression to have access to treatments and services in efforts to avert future tragedies.


In order to gain support for the bill, it had to be separated from gun control reforms. Even still, the bill ensures money will get to the patients who need it most, through federally funded mental health programs, and not get tied up in bureaucracy, according to Byrne.


The legislation addresses the treatment and care of patients with severe mental illness in several ways:   empowering families to work with doctors and mental health professionals to be part of the front-line care delivery team; fixing shortages of inpatient beds providing more psychiatric hospital beds, instead of expensive emergency rooms, for those experiencing a mental health crisis and in need of immediate inpatient care.  The new law would reach underserved and rural populations with tele-psychiatry to link pediatricians and primary care doctors with psychiatrists and psychologists in areas where patients don’t have access to mental health professionals.


One of the more beneficial changes is the focus on providing alternatives to institutionalization to those with serious mental illness to get into treatment, especially when they are unable to understand the gravity of their condition and cannot voluntarily seek out care. This would reduce the rate of imprisonment, homelessness, substance abuse, and costly ER visits.  The government would expand crisis intervention team training for law enforcement, so patients are treated in the healthcare system and not warehoused in the criminal justice system.


With the new law, there is an increase in requirements for private insurance companies to cover mental health treatments and care, just like they currently do for physical health treatments and care. In addition, for people with Medicaid coverage, the bill now allows for –same day billing for mental health and primary care of the same patient.  This helps primary care doctors on the front lines to coordinate more closely -and quickly- with behavioral health providers.


Next, the bill must pass the Senate in order to move forward, but with this being an election year, and the fact July 15th was the end of the current Senate session, there is going to be a tight timeline if the bill is to be passed this year. The Senate meets again in September, but only for one month, and then does not meet again until after the elections in November.


In the meantime, while we wait to see if the bill passes the Senate, you can get help with your mental health medical billing and related services by calling Psychiatric Billing Associates at 800-650-6334, extension 947. We offer assistance with collections, claims processing, and more.


Mental Health Medical Billing


How to Negotiate Fee Increases with Insurance Companies

There are times when you will want to negotiate increases in reimbursement for your practice’s fees, like whenever CPT, diagnostic, and behavioral health billing codes change and/or are updated. Your contract should contain a list of all covered codes and the amount you will be reimbursed by the insurance provider when using those codes for billing.


Behavioral Health Medical Billing

In the event you have existing contracts, it never hurts to sit down, read through them, and verify the information they contain. Sometimes, while you are reviewing contracts, there is always the possibility it could contain codes that are no longer valid and should be updated to reflect the currently accepted CPT codes. In addition, this opens the opportunity to renegotiate the terms of the contract with the insurance provider.


. It is not uncommon for different practices to have differences in reimbursement rates for similar treatments and services. The reason for this has to do with how the practice negotiated their original contract. If they simply accepted the first proposal, chances are they are being reimbursed less than another practice that opened discussions and did not sign the contract until they were satisfied with the rates.


Psychology Billing

The next time you are negotiating fee structures and reimbursement rates with insurance providers, take the time to implement the following tips to potentially secure fee increases:


  1. Never sign a contract you are not happy with, even if there are only a few items you do not like. Insurance companies are in business to make money, so their initial reimbursement amounts tend to be lower to ensure they make a larger profit. By refusing to sign the initial agreement, it could result in the insurance company offering a higher reimbursement rate.

2.) Insist on higher rates for highly demanded services in your area. In areas where psychiatrists and psychologists are in high demand, but there is a limited number of people practicing, you might be able to ask for higher fees for your treatments and services. Let the insurance company know if you specialize in working with certain patient populations, for example with children, the elderly, or LGBT.  Let them know if you speak a foreign language.  Insurance companies sometimes pay more if you have special skills and expertise. If the insurance provider refuses to negotiate, you have options. While you might have tried to get higher fees, sometimes certain insurance companies simply refuse to budge. In these cases, simply say you have thought about it and changed you mind about accepting the terms of the last offer. The other option is to terminate the contract following the procedures detailed in your current contract. Sometimes the insurance company will offer more favorable fees if you are formally requesting to cancel the contract agreement.


Take time to read/review all contract changes/proposals before you sign it. You need to verify the contract is not in conflict with your malpractice coverage, and that you understand every aspect of it, including any addendums and attachments. It never hurts to have a lawyer review the contract, too.

If you are looking for claims processing, collections assistance, and other services for your mental health practice, contact Psychiatric Billing Associates today at 800-650-6334, extension 947 to learn more about how we can help you.