My office is thinking about writing off some claims in the 120+ bucket because they are "uncollectible." Does anyone else do this as well and is there a certain way to document these write offs? Are there some claims that cannot be written off?
Unless these are all small balances, I would think this risks considerable loss of revenue that otherwise may be collected. If charges were billed to the correct payer within the timely filing period and there is a denial, these may still be corrected and refiled or appealed (see your payers timeline for appeals as this may be anywhere from 60-180 days). There is an obligation to make a good faith effort to attempt to collect outstanding balances, especially patient balances due after the primary has paid. While the time of staff to follow-up on claims can be expensive, if balances are more than minimal, there should be a return on the investment. I used to work as a temp going into practices and working old A/R and usually a good deal of it was collected.
If your providers choose to write-off everything over 120 days, it is advisable to look at the accounts and make sure there is indication of an effort to collect on the charges and when known, a reason for the write-off should be entered (e.g., past timely filing, patient moved with no forwarding address).
I agree with Cindy here. You certainly don't want or need to write off balances at 120 days unless you've done your research first and have determined that these are either uncollectible or of small enough value to make the collection effort not worthwhile. Regular Medicare, for example, allows you up to one year from the date of service to submit the claim, so I certainly wouldn't start writing anything off sooner than that. Even with payers that have more strict timely filing, you may have proof in your system that the claim was filed previously that can be used to get the claim paid. Patient balances should only be written off if they are past you state's statutes of limitation to be able to bill the patient or, as Cindy said, you've made a good faith effort to collect and your practices does not want to go to the expense to pursue further.
I would only write off balances that are 1) truly uncollectible because they are past filing limits for the payers involved, or 2) are small enough balances that you know that the cost of time and effort to follow or appeal will exceed the amount that might be collected.
And a third vote for the same. Just because it's 120+ days does not mean it's not collectible. I write off based on the status, not the age. Obviously a $3 balance from 120 days ago, go ahead and write off. A $10,000 surgery claim from 120 days ago is NOT getting written off just because. Even issues where I know we did something less than ideal, I think it's always worth the 52 cent stamp, and 5 cents of paper for 1 appeal letter.