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Commissioners hope outsourcing billing pays off

April 20, 2011
Hoping to increase reimbursements, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners have approved outsourcing the billing of the county's ambulance service.

The commissioners, acting on the recommendation of the service's new director, John Gott, voted 3-0 at their March 30 meeting in English to contract with 911 Billing Services & Consultant Inc. of Madisonville, Ky.

"This is certainly the road that I would recommend that we go down, as far as outsourcing it, because of liability issues and the expertise that a company like this has over us, it's just tremendous," Gott said.

Beverly Basham Simmons made the trip from south of Evansville to give a PowerPoint presentation about the company, founded by her parents, and to answer questions.

Simmons said the company currently bills for 19 clients in Kentucky and Indiana. Unlike other billing companies, 911 Billing only serves EMS and ambulance providers, which enables it to stay updated on rules specific to them, she said.

Her company is paid a percentage of the cash collected, based on the size of the ambulance service, Simmons said. Crawford County, which is small compared to others 911 Billing serves, would be charged 8 percent, which is "pretty low, probably as low as I can go," she said.

Simmons said the fee would include the software necessary for the ambulance service to electronically file its claims — the company also accepts paper claims, but they aren't processed as fast — and support.

"If you don't get paid, we don't get paid," she said.

Gott said rates throughout the industry range from 5 to 20 percent, but he believes 8 percent "is a very good rate for all of the services that they include, all of the tech support, all of the software."

Regarding collecting bad debt, Simmons said 911 Billing has contracts with outside agencies, but it doesn't receive a percentage of the debt collected beyond the regular 8-percent reimbursement. By contracting with the collection agencies, 911 Billing is able to negotiate a lower fee, but, she said, clients are not obligated to use those agencies.

District 1 Commissioner Daniel Crecelius made a motion to approve the contract with 911 Billing subject to County Attorney John E. Colin's review. District 2 Commissioner Randy Gilmore seconded the motion, and Jim Schultz, president of the board, voted in favor.

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