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Mental Health Billing Services: Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Shopping

Your “buyer’s guide” to mental health billing services, and the important questions you should be asking prior to hiring one, answered below:

1. Are they good at what they do?

It’s important to know the track record of mental health billing services when making a decision.  What do they claim that they will achieve for you?  One metric to keep in mind is what percentage of claims will pass the first time they are submitted.  A high percentage ensures that there will be minimal denials and follow-up, which indicates a well-run and knowledgeable staff.  Another number to pay attention to is how soon EOBs will be posted after they are scanned in to the staff.  Any given time over 24 hours is too long for what competent, effective mental health billing services should provide.


2. Do they know my field?

Many billing services encompass all of the medical field, including general physicians, chiropractors, and mental health professionals. When a billing staff must focus on multiple disciplinaries, their speed of work can be hindered. Contrastingly, when a company focuses only on one area of the medical field like mental health for instance, they are ready to take any task that comes their way because it is the sole form of billing that they do.

3.  Are they cost-effective?

The typical range that a mental health billing service will charge is 5-14% of claims. If they’re asking double digits, you’re paying too much. On the other hand, the lowest you’ll find is 3%, and while that is the cheapest rate, you will usually be treated as a number, for they usually work with high volume and sparse customer service. ePsych Billing operates at a solid 4.75%, and Alex is always just a phone call away.

4.  Can I trust them?

You never quite know what (and who) you’re getting with mental health billing services, and if you can rely on them, and trust that they know their stuff.  Alex makes himself very available not only to his clients but also the public, as he offers plentiful amounts of tips on his YouTube channel here on billing for mental health professionals.

5.  Would the advent of universal healthcare render mental health billing services obsolete?

On the contrary, collecting from government programs like Medicare makes up a lot of business for billing companies.  Mental health professionals will still need to collect from a third-party, whether it be private or governmental.  If anything, the need for mental health billing services will increase as healthcare coverage becomes more available and accessible to anyone who needs it, whether it be via employer benefits, government programs, private plans, market exchange, etc.


6.  Is there any risk upfront?

Some mental health billing services lock you into long-term contracts, have sliding scales based on total revenue, and don’t let you try out the service before diving full in.  It’s important that you feel comfortable with the company you choose, and be able to do it risk-free.  Look for mental health billing services that offer free trials with no upfront contract and month-to-month service.


7.  Can’t I do this myself?

Definitely, and if you watch the ‘Minute Mental Health Billing Tips’ videos on the ePsych Billing YouTube channel, you know that we’re a believer in professionals learning how billing works.  It all comes down to how much time you are willing to set aside for doing your own billing, and what that time is worth to you–in terms of lifestyle, and of the hours it’s taking away from seeing more patients.  You must also factor in how unglamorous and downright hellacious it can be sitting on the phone for hours trying to get a hold of insurance companies to appeal denials and the like.  Combine that with all the lost revenue you end up losing from claims yearly, and hiring the manpower of mental health billing services can save you a lot of time and headache, and inevitably a lot of money.


8.  How much money am I actually saving?

Speaking of which, just how much money does a mental health professional save per year utilizing a mental health billing service?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  It’s estimated that a practice with 6,200 claims per year can save as much as $42,000 annually by outsourcing its billing services function.  It might just be the difference of…A NEW CAR! [cue ‘The Price Is Right’ theme music].

mental health professional 

9.  Is this better than hiring office staff?

That all depends on what you’re willing to potentially put up with: hourly wages, workers’ compensation, insurance fees, payroll taxes, sick days, turnover…oh my.  From a financial standpoint, hiring a billing service instead of office staff to do your billing almost seems like a no-brainer.


10.  How open are they to communication?

You want to weed out the mental health billing services that don’t provide daily, weekly, and monthly reports. You also want to be wary of working with a company that isn’t very communicative. Not only are you personally assigned a billing manager at ePsych Billing, you are also free to call Alex for whatever questions or concerns you may have. Knowing that your billing service is always there for you is one of the most important and underestimated aspects when shopping for mental health billing companies.

Alex Trent, MA, MS

Alex Trent, MA, MS

Alex is a psychologist and mental health billing expert, and helps mental health professionals collect more revenue as the owner of ePsych Billing.