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2010 Healthcare Audit Forecast

Medical Business Associates President & CEO Rebecca Busch was featured in the March issue of the Journal of AHIMA in an article titled, “The Year of the Audit.”

The article highlights coding audits and the reasons for them – Rebecca asserts that in order for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to lower its costs, it devised several financial recovery divisions to catch overpayments and fraudulent claims. Some audits include RAC (Recovery Audit Contractor), which evaluates a provider’s claims data, and medical records for possible over/under payments and ZPIC (Zone Program Integrity Contractor), which, according to the article, are the “aggressive cousins of RACs formed by CMS to detect fraudulent claims activity.”

Rebecca goes on to discuss payer fraud and how it will affect health information technology (HIM). HIM departments need to audit yearly to ensure they are not releasing personal health information (PHI) into the hands of fraudsters. As Rebecca states, “For HIM, the ‘year of the audit’ is about ‘releasers beware.’”

Criminals pose as insurers to obtain medical records and other sensitive information more times then one would think. Rebecca says, “This is what makes HIM vulnerable – people who really understand how the department works and how correspondence works. They are writing letters in a typical format that is routine. So it is going to really easy to miss letters that don’t have altruistic intent.”

With 2010 being the year of the audit everyone in the healthcare industry needs to be alert and in top form. The government is looking for overpayments. Insurance companies are looking for overpayments. Hospitals need money to continue to provide services and can’t afford to miscode, bill incorrectly or anything in between. It is a buyer’s beware market out there and patients most likely the ones to be most affected by these audit initiatives.

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