Claim denials in medical billing occur when a health insurance company or payer refuses to process and pay a healthcare provider’s claim for reimbursement. These denials can happen for various reasons, and they can be a significant challenge for healthcare providers and billing staff.

Some common reasons for claim denials in medical billing

Medical Billing Claim Form with 'REJECTED' Stamp

Incorrect patient information:

Errors in patient demographics, such as name, date of birth, or insurance ID, can lead to claim denials.

Incomplete or missing information:

If the claim lacks necessary documentation or supporting information, it may be denied.

Non-covered services:

Some medical services or procedures may not be covered by a patient’s insurance policy, leading to denials.

Duplicate claims:

Submitting the same claim multiple times can result in denials.

Coding errors:

Using incorrect procedures or diagnosis codes can lead to denials. This includes issues like unbundling (submitting multiple claims for components that should be billed together) or upcoding/downcoding (using a code that doesn’t accurately represent the service).

Timely filing limits:

Insurance companies often have strict deadlines for submitting claims. Filing a claim after the specified time frame may result in a denial.

Lack of pre-authorization:

Some medical procedures or treatments require prior authorization from the insurance company. Failing to obtain this authorization can lead to claim denials.

Coordination of benefits (COB) issues:

When a patient has multiple insurance policies, determining which one is the primary payer can be complex. If this is not correctly identified, it can result in denials.

Claim rejections in medical billing

Computer screen displaying multiple rejected medical billing claims

Claim rejections in medical billing refer to instances where a healthcare provider’s submitted claim for reimbursement is not accepted by the insurance company or payer. These rejections occur due to various errors or issues in the claim submission process, preventing the claim from being processed and paid. Common reasons for claim rejections include:

Incorrect Coding:

Errors in assigning procedure codes (CPT codes) or diagnosis codes (ICD-10 codes) can lead to claim rejections. These errors may be related to mismatched codes, upcoding, downcoding, or bundling issues.

Duplicate Claims:

Submitting the same claim multiple times can result in rejections. Payers often have systems in place to identify and reject duplicate claims.


Claims must be submitted within the payer’s specified timeframe. Late submissions can lead to rejections.

Non-Covered Services:

A patient’s insurance plan may not cover some services or procedures. If a claim includes non-covered services, it may be rejected.

Preauthorization or Referral Issues:

If a procedure or service requires preauthorization or a referral, and you do not have these in place, the claim can be rejected.

Coordination of Benefits (COB) Errors:

When a patient has multiple insurance plans, COB errors can occur, leading to rejections. It’s essential to correctly identify the primary and secondary payers.

Patient Eligibility:

Claims may be rejected if the patient’s insurance coverage is not active at the time of service or if the patient is not eligible for the specific service.

Claim Formatting:

Claims must adhere to specific formatting requirements set by the payer. Deviations from these requirements can result in rejections.

Claim Value Errors:

Mistakes in the total claim amount, charges, or payments can lead to rejections.

Payer-Specific Rules:

Different insurance companies may have unique rules and guidelines for claim submission. Not following these rules can lead to rejection.

Tips for Reducing Claim Denials and Rejections in Medical Billing

Tips for Reducing Denials and Claim Rejections

Reducing claim denials and rejections is crucial for healthcare providers to maintain a steady cash flow and streamline their operations. Every denied or rejected claim not only delays reimbursement but also adds administrative burdens. To help you navigate this challenging landscape, we’ve compiled ten easy-to-implement tips to minimize denials and rejections in medical billing.

Verify Patient Information

Ensure that you gather accurate and up-to-date patient information at the point of service. This includes verifying insurance coverage, patient demographics, and contact details. A small error here can lead to claim rejections down the line.

Utilise Technology

Invest in a robust medical billing software system that includes features like real-time eligibility checks and claims scrubbing. These tools can help identify errors or missing information in claims before submission.

Train Your Staff

Well-trained billing and coding staff are essential to minimizing claim rejections. Regular training and updates on coding changes and compliance regulations will help your team submit accurate claims.

Document Everything

Comprehensive and accurate documentation is the backbone of successful medical billing. Ensure that all medical records and codes match the services provided. This will help avoid coding errors and potential denials.

Stay Current with Coding Updates

Medical coding is continually evolving, and staying up-to-date is crucial. Regularly review the latest coding changes and updates from organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Double-Check Claims

Before submitting claims, conduct a thorough review to catch any errors or discrepancies. This includes checking for correct patient information, service codes, and diagnoses. It’s always better to catch mistakes internally than to wait for players to deny them.

Know Payer Policies

Each insurance company has its own set of rules and policies. Familiarise yourself with these, as they can vary significantly. Understanding the specific requirements of each payer will help you in submitting accurate claims that are more likely to be approved.

Appeal Denied Claims

Navigating the Claims Appeal Process

Don’t give up if a claim is denied. Familiarize yourself with the appeals process for different payers and prepare to challenge denials with valid documentation and evidence.

Monitor Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Keep a close eye on your billing performance using key performance indicators such as denial rates, days in accounts receivable, and clean claim rates. This data can help identify trends and areas that require improvement.

Outsource Billing

Consider outsourcing your medical billing to a professional medical billing company. These experts have a deep understanding of industry standards, coding updates, and payer policies. Outsourcing can often lead to fewer denials and a more efficient revenue cycle.


Reducing claim denials and rejections in medical billing is essential for maintaining a steady cash flow and minimizing administrative hassles. By following these ten easy-to-implement tips, healthcare providers can navigate the complexities of medical billing more effectively, ensuring that claims are accurate and processed promptly.