Stephanie Bunch will bend over backwards to get a claim paid for a WebPT Billing Service Member. And she means that quite literally—after all, she was a star gymnast back in high school.
The Phoenix native specialized in vault and ended up nabbing 11th-place honors in that event at the high school regional championships. “It was just easy for me,” she said. “It was what I always scored highest in.” Of course, dedicating herself to a sport that requires such intense training meant spending a lot of time in the gym—and not much time anywhere else. “We had workouts five or six days a week, from 4:30 in the afternoon until 9 o’clock at night,” she said. “I can count on one hand the number of times I went to a football game with my friends, because I was just never available.”
All that discipline has served Stephanie well throughout her career, both in the office and at home. When her three kids were growing up, every dollar counted. So, when her middle son got sick and racked up a steady string of doctor’s bills, Stephanie did everything in her power to make sure the insurance company was held responsible for every cent it owed. That meant spending many hours poring over explanations of benefits (EOBs) and insurance claims policy.
And she was doing all of that on top of holding down a job as a teacher’s aide at her kids’ school—not to mention carting them around to dance lessons, sports practices, and the like. “It was fun,” she said. “I wouldn’t change it.” Once her daughter was able to drive, Stephanie decided to go back to work full-time. But she didn’t immediately jump into the medical billing field. Instead, she took an office gig with a construction company. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be: “When the economy took a dive, I lost my job,” she said. “People just weren’t building homes.”
In a way, though, that was a blessing in disguise, because it allowed Stephanie to get back into the medical billing business—but as a professional this time around. After five years of learning the ins and outs of appealing denied claims, Stephanie made her way to WebPT. “One of my former coworkers started working here [at WebPT], and she told me I should come over,” she said. It was one of the best decisions she made. “I love the laid-back feeling and the culture,” she said. “We come in and get our work done and have fun while doing it; we don’t have to be stuffy about it.” Plus, she definitely has a soft spot for the PT community: “I love PT,” she said. “Being in gymnastics, I’ve been through it before, and I just think there are a lot of people out there who aren’t educated or informed on what PT can do for a person.”
Add those pluses to the incomparable feeling of getting a long-standing claim denial paid, and it just doesn’t get much better. “Beating the insurance company is the best thing—the best feeling,” she said. Sometimes, getting a payer to, well, pay is as simple as adding missing information to a claim. Other times, reimbursement is more elusive. But that’s when Stephanie truly shines. She’s well-versed in the art of asking questions—often to a lot of different people. “Sometimes it means calling back to talk to somebody else, because most times, you’re going to get more than one answer,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a while, but you just have to be persistent.”
When things get really tough, she thinks back to her own experience wrangling dollars out of her family’s insurance carrier. “If someone else was fighting for my claim, I would hope they’d do everything they could,” she said. “I can’t just tell [our Members] to write it off, because if I did that every time [there was a difficult claim], we’d be writing off a lot of money—and that doesn’t help either of us.”
In addition to rallying for insurance payments in her role as an A/R Specialist, Stephanie conducts regular check-ins with all of her assigned clinics and helps them resolve any issues they are experiencing. Based on her experience working with WebPT Members, Stephanie offers PTs the following words of advice: “[They should] educate themselves on the billing process. Their task is to treat patients, but it’s not just [about] treating patients, because if you don’t find out upfront stuff, you’re going to treat for free.” By “upfront stuff,” she means benefits and eligibility. And that’s exactly why a good front office team can make or break your practice.
When she’s not knocking down the doors (metaphorically speaking) of insurance companies, Stephanie spends her time hanging out with friends, camping with her family, and traveling with her husband. In fact, they just returned from a trip to New Orleans. “Now that the kids are out of the house, we have a lot more freedom to get out and explore, so it’s been really fun,” she said. And, as a former gymnast, she does her best to stay in shape—which usually means forcing herself to work out. “It’s weird, I know, since I was so into gymnastics when I was younger, but I absolutely hate working out now,” she said with a laugh.
Good thing her unbreakable determination is so deeply ingrained. After all, anyone who can get an insurance company to reverse a claim denial without breaking a sweat should be able to get through an hour of Zumba without too much trouble.
Fave Five with Stephanie
- Favorite food: Tacos
- Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption
- Favorite sports team: Arizona Cardinals
- Favorite musician: Jason Aldean
- Favorite place: East Fork of the Black River (Arizona)