You’ve probably noticed headlines in states like Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington: pharmacists can bill as medical providers. But how do you move from news headline to daily workflow?
Recently passed laws are enacting a long-held goal for the pharmacy community, recognizing pharmacists as providers through Medicaid and managed health insurance issuers, including reimbursement and inclusion in medical networks.
But after cheering a well-deserved victory, the first question might be: how does a pharmacist actually do this? We’ll provide some answers here, adapted from a presentation at iQ Virtual Series 2 by OmniSYS® Chief Innovation Officer David Pope, Pharm.D., CDE.
How does medical billing differ from pharmacy claims?
To begin, there are definite similarities in pharmacy and medical claims. For both, key questions are:
- Is this patient covered? (Active coverage? Deductibles met?)
- For this service (prescription)?
- In my pharmacy? (Is the pharmacy/pharmacist in the patient’s insurance network?)
- What does it cost? (The real-time price – pharmacist’s reimbursement and cost to the patient)
The pharmacy claims process for QS/1 customers, for example, involves submission from the pharmacy management system > through the PowerLine® claims switch > to the pharmacy benefit organization, and back again. A pharmacy claim has these attributes:
- Includes eligibility and claims submission in a single transaction
- Trusted adjudicated rates (at least, until recently)
- Contracting possible through pharmacy services administrative organizations (PSAOs)
- Uses the NCPDP® pathway
While still involving the 4 key questions above, the medical claims process is more complex. Pharmacies would submit a claim from the QS/1 Pharmacy Management System > to a medical clearinghouse (for both eligibility and claims) > to the medical benefit organization (again, both eligibility and claims), and back again. With traditional medical claims billing, only some of the important questions are immediately addressed. The process verifies patient active coverage and deductibles but does not often confirm that the service is covered or that the pharmacy/pharmacist is in network. It also does not help with real-time price (pharmacist’s reimbursement and cost to the patient). A medical claim has these attributes:
- Eligibility and claims submission are separate events
- Generally non-reversible
- Requires separate contract from pharmacy contract
- Eligibility generally does not check all eligibility requirements
- Uses X12 pathway, not NCPDP
To successfully provide the clinical services that fall under medical billing, pharmacists need to know what price to charge and what they’ll be reimbursed. They also need to reconcile paid claims and manage rejected claims. That’s why some companies in the market are seeking to better help pharmacists submit medical claims to payers and get fuller answers to the 4 key questions.
How to submit a medical claim
Programs like RedSail Advantage™, through a partnership with OmniSYS®, seek to mimic the pharmacy claims process with medical claims. With medical eligibility and this program’s checks and edits, important information is determined during claims submission: for patients, diagnosis requirements; for services, that it’s a known covered service, specific CPT codes to use, reimbursed price, and % cost to the patient after the deductible. And for providers, known network inclusion.
This way, the medical claims process for a QS/1 customer can look like this: get connected to the payer (generally called credentialing/contracting) > connect with your medical billing organization > and submit the claim.
Key steps toward a medical contract through credentialing
When it comes to credentialing and contracting, it helps to think of the requirements as “declaring yourself” and “describing yourself.” To begin, you’ll need to declare that you and your pharmacy offer clinical services.
For Medicare, enroll as a pharmacy and independent laboratory. Note that this is not a Mass Immunizer enrollment. If you’re not sure how you’re currently enrolled, visit data.cms.gov/revalidation. You’ll be given a Medicare ID number or PTAN. If you’re already enrolled in Medicare but need to update your enrollment, RedSail Advantage can assist. For other payers, visit the payer website or the OmniSYS Training Center (available through RedSail Advantage). Complete the initial provider enrollment form to get started.
When credentialing and contracting with payers, you’ll need to describe yourself, including your expertise, as a pharmacist/pharmacy. You’re able to describe yourself in two ways: with taxonomy codes attached to your NPI number and via Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH, which allows insurance companies to use a single, uniform application for credentialing). For your organization, you’ll only need to describe yourself through the taxonomy codes.
When billing for clinical services, you’ll also need to describe yourself. You’ll need both an organizational and individual NPI, because most insurances will require an individual NPI. The National Plan & Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) is the place for you to add or modify your NPIs. The link is nppes.cms.hhs.gov.
Find out how you’ve described yourself so far at npiregistry.cms.hhs.gov. Update your NPI taxonomy codes for both your organization and yourself. For example, when billing diabetes education, update your taxonomy codes to Diabetes Educator (163WD0400X). You may be rejected by networks, if you don’t describe yourself properly through your NPI.
- Declare yourself: Enroll properly with Medicare and complete initial forms with other payers.
- Describe yourself: Update NPI taxonomy codes for your organization and yourself and get the CAQH profile started.
- Get connected: Connect with a medical claims processor to submit claims and ensure enhanced eligibility.
Remember the foundational requirements of credentialing and contracting will be required regardless of the clinical service you choose to implement in your pharmacy, so now is the time to start laying the groundwork.
Coming soon: Part 2 will address how to use
immunizations as a primary driver for clinical services, billing considerations
for other types of clinical services, and workflow best practices, including a