A reprieve for consultants facing the introduction of billing charges by clearing organisation Healthcode has now ended.
A subscription-based service has now been introduced for independent practitioners and clinics to submit their electronic bills to insurers for validation and payment.
Healthcode’s managing director Peter Connor told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘Introducing a subscription-based Clearing Service was not an easy decision, but it was necessary to ensure everyone could continue to benefit from secure and efficient online billing at a reasonable cost.
‘As billing volumes continue to recover, Healthcode can now ensure this essential service is equipped to meet the future needs of independent practitioners and the whole private healthcare sector.’
To use the service, each payee provider needs to pay a subscription fee of £6.99 per month, plus a 25p transaction fee per validated bill.
Healthcode said these charges were necessary to cover the increasing costs of a vital link between practitioners and insurers, including meeting the latest web and data security standards, expanding customer services to support the increased demand, and maintaining compatibility with third-party systems.
This had become more urgent as demand for electronic billing surged since the company launched its free Clearing Service in 2002.
More than 7m electronic bills were submitted annually by 2019 and there has already been a significant recovery in volumes since the height of the pandemic, which is projected to continue.
Healthcode said: ‘By subscribing to the Clearing Service, practitioners can continue to submit invoices to multiple insurers and other healthcare payors from one secure platform. Each invoice is then automatically validated according to the payor’s specific requirements.
‘Practitioners can see when invoices have been validated and received and notified when they do not meet the validation criteria. Applying these validation checks before issuing the invoice to insurers avoids processing delays and additional costs.’
As reported by Independent Practitioner Today last November, plans for earlier implementation of the charges were postponed due to Covid-19 and concerns about its impact on private practice activity levels.
The charges, payable by direct debit, will take effect for current Healthcode customers once their existing plan expires.
These costs can be offset against tax.
Healthcode said thousands of independent practitioners had subscribed to the Clearing Service for its convenience, efficiency, security and to get validated invoices enter the insurer payment cycle quickly.
More information at www.healthcode.co.uk/clearingserviceguide
The company said its customer services team and Harley the online help bot were available to answer practitioners’ queries and help resolve difficulties.