Navigating New Year Insurance Headaches

Well, here we are again; the start of yet another year. For a lot of people, that means going on the big diet and joining a gym. For many of our families, it also means that our insurance deductibles re-load. Most insurance companies operate on a calendar year basis, which means that the deductibles and the benefits start all over January 1st. Drats!

In regards to your benefits and The George Center, please be aware of your out-of-network deductible amounts, as we are always considered an out-of-network provider. Most of you who do have insurance coverage for your music therapy will receive invoices from our office for the first few months until your deductible is met.  Please make sure to plan for this financially, so that these invoices are not a shock to your wallet.

And then…just as we have conditioned your current insurance company to cover our services, your employer throws a monkey wrench into the situation and switches insurance companies. If that pertains to you this year, be sure to send us your updated information. We will be happy to call on your new benefits to see if your plan will cover music therapy. Of course, be aware that we are always reminded when we call, the standard disclaimer: “a verification of benefits does not guarantee payment”.

Just an FYI to our families with Blue Cross Blue Shield of GA insurance, for now, they do not cover music therapy. We are hoping for that to change soon with the new GA licensing that is required for all music therapists. This licensure goes into effect January 1st. Our own Jamie George is on the board of music therapists who are working with insurance companies, such as BCBS of GA, to hopefully have them cover our therapies in the future.

On our end, please always know that we are fighting every day to educate your insurance companies on the benefits of music therapy. We aren’t there just yet with all of them, but we are making strides every day!

Happy 2014 from The George Center!

Questions about your insurance? Sign up for our free consultation and we'll help you navigate insurance and music therapy reimbursement!

 

Advocating Through Insurance Billing

Editorial Note: Today's blog post comes from our FANTASTIC office manager, Christy Deneau!

Being constantly surrounded by amazingly talented music therapists, I get a first hand peep into the world of music therapy. I see the incredible progress they make with their patients each week, as well as the grueling schedules that they keep. I ask myself, what can a person like me do for music therapy? I don’t have a musical bone in my body.

Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have the ears and eyes of insurance companies each day. A big part of my job is working with our families and their insurance companies to receive 3rd party reimbursement for our services. Although music therapy is becoming more main stream, insurance companies are still learning about music therapy, its benefits for each population, and its place as an allied health profession.

It is not always an easy process. In the event that I need to appeal a decision, I take advantage of knowing that a Medical Director will be thoroughly reviewing my file. I am always sure to send loads of fact sheets, supporting research, and information on music therapy to educate them appropriately. I am happy to report that we have appealed many times successfully and continue to see an increase in medical plans that cover music therapy, an often necessary therapy for our patients. Helping to educate the insurance companies and help our families out on the financial end of things is what I can do (since you never want to hear me sing or play an instrument!)

Did you know The George Center is one of the leading music therapy private practices when it comes to billing insurance? It's true! We successfully bill insurance for about 80% of our clients!  Contact us today and we'd be happy to see if YOUR insurance company will cover music therapy services!

 

Photo credit: Keith Allison (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/5992627966/)

4 Ways You Can Advocate to Your Government

This is definitely an exciting time for music therapy advocacy, especially here in Georgia, and our GCMT friends and families are no strangers to just how far-reaching their advocacy efforts can be. In early 2012, we all came together in a grassroots effort to support the passing of SB 414 for Music Therapy Licensure, and saw firsthand that no act of advocacy is too small. Client families and healthcare professionals inundated their legislators with emails, phone calls, and testimonials. An intrepid team of music therapists beat feet all over the Georgia State Capitol building to educate people about their profession. The Georgia Music Therapy Task Force worked tirelessly for months on end, attending a multitude of meetings and hearings, and maintaining communication with organizations, legislators, and other music therapy professionals and advocates across the country. Through these combined efforts, we finally saw the passing of SB 414, making Georgia the 3rd state in the country to pass a bill for music therapy licensure!

Whether your state has recently passed a bill for music therapy licensure, is in the process of doing so, or has a newly formed task force, the time is always right for advocacy on any level. There are a few steps you can take to connect and communicate with your state legislators.

 1. Know who your legislators are.

You can find them and their contact information by going to www.votesmart.org and entering your zip code.

2. CONNECT!

Whether it be by phone, email, social media, or a face to face meeting, it is important to let your legislator know you are their constituent.

3. Communicate

You may not have to limit yourself to 140 characters (unless you follow them on Twitter!), but your legislators will have many issues vying for their time, so it is important for your communications to be concise, factual, and to-the-point.

4. Follow Up

Keep the lines of communication open, answer questions, and look for opportunities to invite them to see music therapy in action!

So, whether you are advocating at your state capitol or in the school carpool line, if you are able to share any information about what music therapists do, where they work, and how music therapy can benefit others, then you have advocated successfully.

Happy Advocating!

Ready to get started with music therapy?  Contact us today and let us tell you more about what we do!



Music Therapy Advocacy and Employment: Like Peas and Carrots!

It was my honor and pleasure to speak to the Music Therapy Association of North Carolina this past Saturday. The continuing music therapy education credit was split into two parts: “Professional Advocacy and State Recognition of Music Therapy from the Perspective of the Georgia Task Force”, and “Music Therapy Employees vs. Independent Contractors and Tax law”. You might wonder how these two topics relate to one another. Well, let me tell you! Advocacy and Employment go together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, or of you prefer a musical reference…. “We go together like
rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong”!

As our profession continues to grow and expand into new markets, we are seeing a change in the way music therapists and facilities are hiring and utilizing music therapy services. In addition, increased success with 3rd party reimbursement and state recognition are changing the way our patients, administrators, and interdisciplinary colleagues view the professionalism and validity of music therapy.  It is our never ending job as music therapists to advocate for our profession and continue to move forward as an organization. As others begin to know more about what it is that we do, we are opening ourselves up to the public regarding the moral, ethical and legal implications of our practice. And as the old adage states, “with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility.”

I believe that music therapists need to be empowered to know their rights and the rights of the facilities and companies they work for in order to protect themselves, their clients, and our profession.

North Carolina is about to embark on another year of advocating for state recognition of the MT-BC (Music Therapist - Board Certified) credential. With a bill already penned and ready to drop, their task force is hard at work educating legislators and advocating for their profession. If there is one thing that I hope that I was able to communicate this past weekend, it is this: The task force cannot do it alone! Music Therapists (and the clients and facilities that we serve) need to present a united front regarding advocacy and state recognition. So I ask you, what can you do to help improve access to quality music therapy services and professionalism amongst music therapy colleagues and employers?

Are you interested in our music therapy workshops, consulting, and in-service options? Contact us today!

Does Medical Insurance Cover Music Therapy?

Today's post comes to us from our office manager Christy Deneau.  Christy began working for The George Center after gaining years of valuable experience in the healthcare industry as a physician recruiter.  Christy is an insurance guru who works diligently to ensure that clients of The George Center get affordable access to high quality music therapy services.

Many times when an individual calls our office inquiring about music therapy services, one of the first questions they ask is "Does medical insurance cover music therapy?"  In many cases, YES! As with all rehabilitative services, the answer lies with the patient’s individual and/or family insurance plan. All insurance companies are not the same just as all medical and mental health plans are not the same. While there are some plans that specifically exclude music therapy as a covered service, we at The George Center successfully bill 3rd party insurance providers for over 80% of our patients!

There are many effective CPT codes that music therapists successfully use that describe a variety of music therapy interventions. However, these codes are not discipline specific and are often used by other related healthcare professionals (i.e. physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, mental health professionals, etc.). Therefore, we always communicate your benefits and plan details so that you may choose how and if you want to use your therapeutic benefits for music therapy. This also helps to avoid a duplication of services with your other therapy providers.  In addition, the code(s) we use must fit our therapeutic goals for the patient.

Please keep in mind, at this time music therapists are considered out of network providers with ALL insurance companies. It is our mission as we increase national and state recognition of our credentials that music therapists will be able to apply to be in network providers very soon!  Until then, music therapy is typically subject to an out of network deductible that has to be met before your insurance company will pay any claims.

There continues to be a great deal of progress in the world of music therapy regarding advocacy, recognition, and reimbursement. Just this past March, Georgia Senate Bill 414 for music therapy licensure passed!  Licensure increases awareness and access to quality music therapy services for Georgia residents. Our own Jamie George served on the task force that worked to pass this bill and continues to work to educate and advocate for music therapy across the state and the nation. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about news and happenings regarding music therapy recognition and reimbursement options in our state and across the country.

We are always happy to call on your benefits to see what options might be available for music therapy services. Please keep in mind that insurance companies make it very clear that a verification of benefits does not guarantee payment. However, The George Center prides itself on working diligently to obtain claim approvals for all of our patients who have therapy benefits that include music therapy as a related service. We look forward to hearing from you soon!