The first quarter of the year brings changes with it for every business, but perhaps especially so for physician practices. Insurance companies often implement changes at this time, from the minor to the major, up to and including dropping certain providers from their networks. This is a headache for physician practices to be certain, and it can also disrupt continuity of care for their patients. Some of the issues insurance companies create have no real solution, but there are ways to help practices and patients manage them as productively as possible.

Some patients have found their medications – which they may have been on for years without issue – will no longer be covered by insurance, according to Physicians Practice. Sometimes it is possible to justify the use of the usual drugs, but sometimes it's impossible to do without a lot of extra effort and inconvenient medication changes. Insurance companies often want to see that a patient has tried and failed to manage a condition on the standard drug for it before considering anything else, and that can be difficult and unnecessary to do. Helping a patient through this may mean explaining why these changes are necessary to maintain insurance coverage, or contacting the payer to see whether there are other options.

Yet other patients may find the physicians they have maintained relationships with for years aren't in their network anymore. This can be jarring for all involved. Physicians should seriously consider which of their colleagues they would recommend to patients who can no longer see them. Making a list of providers who remain in network and who the physician trusts can be helpful in orienting patients to a new medical relationship made necessary by insurance changes.

Dealing with insurance changes financially
It's important for physician practices to stay on top of changing requirements from, and contracts with, insurance companies. Failure to do so could have a negative effect on revenue cycle management. However, knowing what is happening is only half the battle. It's also vital for providers to work with an experienced revenue cycle management company. These firms can obtain the maximum possible rates of reimbursement from insurance companies for physician practices because they focus entirely on the medical billing and coding world. That kind of expertise is useful at all times, but perhaps especially so in a changing health care industry and reimbursement climate.