Billing and coding mistakes are not just minor clerical errors; they can significantly impact both patients and healthcare providers. For patients, these errors can lead to unexpected expenses and delays in receiving care, while for medical facilities, they can result in denied claims, reduced revenue, and increased administrative burden. Understanding and avoiding these common errors is essential for maintaining the integrity of healthcare billing systems.

Most Common Mistakes

1. Not Verifying Insurance

One of the most frequent and costly mistakes is failing to verify a patient’s insurance coverage. This can happen when staff assume that a regular patient’s insurance details have not changed. However, insurance policies and coverage details can change frequently, making it essential to verify insurance information at each visit. This includes checking the patient’s eligibility and understanding the specific terms of their policy to avoid costly denials.

Solution: Always verify insurance information for every patient visit, regardless of how frequently the patient comes in. Use automated systems to streamline this process and ensure accuracy.

2. Lack of Documentation

Medicare and other insurers require thorough documentation to justify the medical necessity of services provided. Without proper documentation, insurers may deny the claim, assuming the service was not necessary or not provided at all.

Solution: Ensure comprehensive documentation of all services, including detailed medical histories, diagnostic test results, and treatment plans. Train staff to maintain meticulous records that clearly support the medical necessity of each service provided.

3. Missing Claim Information

Incomplete claims are a common reason for denials. Even a single missing field can result in a claim being rejected by the insurer.

Solution: Implement a thorough review process where claims are double-checked for completeness before submission. Utilize electronic health record (EHR) systems that flag incomplete claims, preventing submission until all required fields are filled.

4. Lack of Detail

Insurance claims must be coded with high specificity. General or vague coding can lead to claim denials as insurers require precise information to process claims accurately.

Solution: Train coding staff extensively on the importance of specificity in coding. Regularly update coding resources and provide continuous education to ensure that staff stay current with coding guidelines and best practices.

5. Missed Deadlines

Timely submission of claims is crucial. Many insurers have strict deadlines for claim submission, and missing these deadlines can result in automatic denials.

Solution: Develop a robust workflow that prioritizes timely claim submission. Set internal deadlines well before the insurer’s deadline to account for any potential delays. Regularly audit your submission timelines to identify and address any bottlenecks.

6. Typing Errors

Simple typographical errors, such as incorrect patient names or dates of service, can lead to claim denials.

Solution: Implement a quality control process where claims are reviewed for accuracy before submission. Encourage a culture of double-checking all entries and consider using software tools that can catch common typographical errors.

7. Not Verifying Coverage

Insurance coverage can change frequently, and not all treatments may be covered under a patient’s current plan. Failing to verify coverage can lead to unexpected out-of-pocket costs for patients and denied claims for providers.

Solution: Verify coverage details for each treatment or service provided. Ensure that staff are aware of and check any coverage limitations or exclusions associated with the patient’s insurance plan.

8. Using Outdated Codes

Medical coding is an evolving field with regular updates. Using outdated codes can result in claim denials as the insurer may not recognize the codes used.

Solution: Keep coding resources up-to-date and ensure that staff are aware of the latest coding updates. Invest in ongoing training and subscription to coding updates to stay current with changes in medical coding practices.

9. Unbundling or Bundling Medical Procedures

Unbundling involves billing multiple steps of a procedure separately instead of as a single bundled procedure, while bundling incorrectly combines separate procedures. Both practices can lead to denied claims or even accusations of fraud.

Solution: Educate coding staff on the correct use of bundled and unbundled codes. Use coding software that helps identify and correct bundling errors. Regularly review coding practices to ensure compliance with coding guidelines.

How to Avoid These Errors

Double-Check Everything

Before filing a claim, double-check all patient information, coverage details, and codes. Implement a review system where multiple staff members cross-check claims to catch any errors.


Encourage collaboration between physicians and support staff to ensure all necessary information is accurately documented and submitted. Regular meetings to discuss and review the billing process can help identify and resolve issues proactively.

Utilize Clearinghouses

Clearinghouses can serve as an additional layer of protection against errors. These services review claims for accuracy before submission to insurers, providing an opportunity to correct mistakes.

Invest in Training and Technology

Regular training for staff on the latest coding practices and billing requirements is crucial. Additionally, investing in advanced billing software that includes error-checking and compliance features can significantly reduce the incidence of errors.

A Healthy Revenue System

Reducing billing and coding errors is essential for maintaining a healthy revenue system. By preventing claim denials and ensuring accurate billing, healthcare providers can avoid revenue loss, legal issues, and federal penalties. It all starts with diligent attention to detail, effective staff training, and leveraging technology to streamline the billing process. With these practices in place, healthcare providers can focus more on patient care and less on administrative challenges.

Final Thought

In the complex world of healthcare billing and coding, mistakes can have far-reaching consequences. By being aware of common errors such as not verifying insurance, lack of documentation, and using outdated codes, healthcare providers can take proactive steps to avoid these pitfalls. Collaborating with billing experts, investing in continuous staff training, and utilizing advanced billing software are crucial strategies for minimizing errors and ensuring efficient, accurate claims processing. By implementing these best practices, healthcare providers can maintain a robust revenue cycle, enhance patient satisfaction, and focus on delivering high-quality care.