Tips for Medicare coinsurance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is now law. To ensure compliance and avoid fines, here are six suggestions for financial managers:

• Require coinsurance payments from patients every time, unless waiving them clearly conforms with federal law.

• Establish a formal, written policy regarding coinsurance fees and conditions for their waiver.

• Ensure that registration staff and all department heads are acquainted with Medicare "safe harbors" and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 exceptions through training and work-site policy manuals.

• Document all cases involving patient waivers and ensure that compliance is clearly noted and explained in the billing record.

• Simplify the coinsurance payment process by making available credit-card or installment-payment options.

• Assign an individual to coordinate Medicare coinsurance payments and be accountable for overall compliance.