Are you objecting properly to copy bills?
It’s nothing new to say that applicant copy service bills are riddled with problems. Claims adjusters and defense attorneys are well aware that applicant photocopy bills are typically two to three times higher in price than those of their preferred defense copy shops. Applicant copy services crank out large volumes of invoices full of vague, confusing line items and severely lacking in specific itemization. It’s often unclear what services were actually performed. Claims adjusters are essentially asked to pay a one-page invoice – rarely accompanied by any substantial Prima Facie evidence – on blind faith alone. Often, the services billed for are duplicative of services already performed by the defense copy company.
To further complicate matters, we still do not have a fee schedule in place for copy services. Technically, the copy shops can bill whatever they want – but that doesn’t mean you have to pay any amount beyond what you determine to be fair and reasonable, so long as you clearly explain to the provider why you’re paying them that amount.
When issuing your payment to the applicant copy service in the amount you deem reasonable, make sure the payment is accompanied by a proper objection. The following are good practices when objecting to a copy bill:
- Your objection should be issued timely and in writing. You should specifically state which line items and charges you determined to be priced excessively, and exactly how much of a reduction is being taken for each item in dispute.
- You should challenge any vague, cryptic, or duplicative line items that do not clearly describe or itemize a particular service.
- Present a remedy to the copy service outlining what can be done to fix the bill. Demand a written explanation for further clarification of any unclear items, and demand Prime Facie evidence to support disputed charges.
What kind of Prima Facie evidence and documentation should you demand?
- A copy of the subpoena used to obtain records. Copy services don’t always serve a copy of their subpoenas to defendants. Before you pay for any subpoena preparation or service charges, you should have the opportunity to analyze the subpoena and verify that it was valid. An invalid subpoena is an abuse of the discovery process and should not be paid for.
- A copy of the subpoena’s “declaration of service.” You should be able to verify that the subpoena was properly served before paying for subpoena service.
- If you’re wary of the accuracy of the page count on the invoice, consider demanding a copy of the records to verify that the copy service really obtained the records they claim to have obtained.
- Demand a copy of the “declaration of custodian of records,” especially in situations where the copy service is billing you excessively for a “certificate of no records.” The declaration should be signed by both the location’s custodian of records and the professional photocopier who completed the job. This declaration allows the custodian of records to certify that all requested records (if they were available) were produced, and allows the professional photocopier to certify that all of the produced records were received and photocopied.
- Consider demanding proof that the copy service is registered as a professional photocopier pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 22450-22463. Per this chapter, only registered professional photocopiers are entitled to compensation for photocopying records.
In reality, not many claims administrators have the time and resources to meet these requirements when dealing with the flood of applicant photocopy bills they are bombarded with every day. It’s much easier to simply pay the bill in full, issue a generic and non-specific objection letter, or just file it away and ignore it. Unfortunately, these tactics put claims administrators in a position to lose once the copy service inevitably files a lien seeking full reimbursement plus penalty and interest. Here are some things to avoid doing:
- DON’T just issue a one-line objection letter that is just as vague or irrelevant as the copy bill itself! For example: “Billing is excessive,” “Billing is for self-procured treatment,” “Billing exceeds the official medical fee schedule,” etc.
- DON’T ignore the bill and pay nothing. If you feel that no payment is owed, issue a clear explanation of why you object to the charges in their entirety.
- You could just pay the bill in full and move on to something more important, but you would be wasting money! These bills seriously add up. Taking the time to analyze each bill and determine the appropriate amount to pay can end up saving a claims administrator millions of dollars.
When we talk about these bills adding up, we mean it – AAA COPY & REVIEW SERVICES has reviewed 70,000 copy bills, reducing them by a total of $10 million. We are the premier copy bill review service in California’s workers’ compensation industry, and we are fully equipped to take the burden of dealing with these bills away from claims administrators. Simply send your copy bills to us and we’ll take care of everything. We’ll draft the thorough and specific objection letter, we’ll mail it on your behalf, and we’ll tell you how much to pay the provider. And with over 80 lien trial victories under our belt, our experts are prepared to provide expert testimony for your defense.
Whether you use our service our simply put the above tips to good use, we hope we’ve been able to help you in your efforts to address applicant copy bills.