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Overpayments: getting the advantage for the insurer

Overpayments to providers by insurers happen all the time. It’s not a matter of fraud but the complexities of the system. Medical providers rarely have fixed tables of cost for any given services and the actual price for any given treatment is often negotiable.

Insurers have a disadvantage in this system. The position is made even weaker by Florida law. The only way to regain the advantage, when necessary, is to be prepared for civil litigation.

The law in Florida

Insurance payments to providers are covered in Florida statute 627.6131, Payment of claims. The exact dates and methods for all claims are spelled out in great detail. Section (6)(a) covers overpayments discovered as part of a review or audit and not related to fraud.

1. All claims for overpayment must be submitted to a provider within 30 months after the health insurer’s payment of the claim. A provider must pay, deny, or contest the health insurer’s claim for overpayment within 40 days after the receipt of the claim. All contested claims for overpayment must be paid or denied within 120 days after receipt of the claim. Failure to pay or deny overpayment and claim within 140 days after receipt creates an uncontestable obligation to pay the claim.

This establishes the procedures and the clock for payments. Further, in section 3 it is made clear that insurers cannot take any action on their own including reducing payment for other services as part of an overpayment claim.

What this means

If a provider simply ignores the overpayment request, it can be enforced after 140 days. But it often takes the threat of civil action in order to have that reimbursement occur.

It is often in the best interests of any provider to simply deny the overpayment as a matter of course. This leaves them in the even stronger position, given that it is not legal to reduce any payments to the provider. There is no recourse for hte insurer other than to threaten to sue.

How to proceed

For this reason, all situations involving overpayment have to be considered on the basis of how the information will be presented at trial. The providers must believe that the overpayment is going to proceed to trial before they will take it seriously, based on their strong position under the law.

That is why any collection action against a provider must be undertaken with a law firm experienced in handling collection and refunds from providers. There is simply no alternative, given the position insurers are in under Florida law.

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