(1) Every participating provider and facility contract shall set forth a schedule for the prompt payment of amounts owed by the carrier to the provider or facility and shall include penalties for carrier failure to abide by that schedule. At a minimum, these contract provisions shall conform to the standards of this section.
(2)(a) For health services provided to covered persons, a carrier shall pay providers and facilities as soon as practical but subject to the following minimum standards:
(i) Ninety-five percent of the monthly volume of clean claims shall be paid within thirty days of receipt by the responsible carrier or agent of the carrier; and
(ii) Ninety-five percent of the monthly volume of all claims shall be paid or denied within sixty days of receipt by the responsible carrier or agent of the carrier, except as agreed to in writing by the parties on a claim-by-claim basis.
(b) The receipt date of a claim is the date the responsible carrier or its agent receives either written or electronic notice of the claim.
(c) The carrier shall establish a reasonable method for confirming receipt of claims and responding to provider and facility inquiries about claims.
(d) Any carrier failing to pay claims within the standard established under subsection (2) of this section shall pay interest on undenied and unpaid clean claims more than sixty-one days old until the carrier meets the standard under subsection (2) of this section. Interest shall be assessed at the rate of one percent per month, and shall be calculated monthly as simple interest prorated for any portion of a month. The carrier shall add the interest payable to the amount of the unpaid claim without the necessity of the provider or facility submitting an additional claim. Any interest paid under this section shall not be applied by the carrier to a covered person's deductible, copayment, coinsurance, or any similar obligation of the covered person.
(e) When the carrier issues payment in either the provider or facility and the covered person names, the carrier shall make claim checks payable in the name of the provider or facility first and the covered person second.
(3) For purposes of this section, "clean claim" means a claim that has no defect or impropriety, including any lack of any required substantiating documentation, or particular circumstances requiring special treatment that prevents timely payments from being made on the claim under this section.
(4) Denial of a claim must be communicated to the provider or facility and must include the specific reason why the claim was denied. If the denial is based upon medical necessity or similar grounds, then the carrier upon request of the provider or facility must also promptly disclose the supporting basis for the decision. For example, the carrier must describe how the claim failed to meet medical necessity guidelines.
(5) Every carrier shall be responsible for ensuring that any person acting on behalf of or at the direction of the carrier or acting pursuant to carrier standards or requirements complies with these billing and claim payment standards.
(6) These standards do not apply to claims about which there is substantial evidence of fraud or misrepresentation by providers, facilities or covered persons, or instances where the carrier has not been granted reasonable access to information under the provider's or facility's control.
(7) Providers, facilities, and carriers are not required to comply with these contract provisions if the failure to comply is occasioned by any act of God, bankruptcy, act of a governmental authority responding to an act of God or other emergency, or the result of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.30.010, 48.43.055, 48.44.050, 48.44.070, 48.46.030, 48.46.200 and 48.46.243. 99-21-016 (Matter No. R 98-21), § 284-43-321, filed 10/11/99, effective 11/11/99.]