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What is Credentialing in Medical Billing?

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Credentialing refers to the process through which insurance companies validate an individual’s education, professional background, and training. This procedure ensures that healthcare professionals meet the internal standards set by insurance providers to serve as in-network providers.

Insurance companies maintain web-based directories containing a list of all in-network providers affiliated with their plans. These updated directories serve as a resource for healthcare consumers seeking physicians and other providers who accept their insurance. Upon successful completion of the credentialing process, healthcare consumers can identify the individual as an in-network provider within their specialty panel.

Credentialing or provider enrollment process

While awaiting completion of the credentialing and contracting processes, healthcare providers may submit claims to insurance companies as out-of-network providers. However, reimbursement for out-of-network services is contingent upon the patient’s policy and applicable out-of-network benefits. Notably, Medicare and Medicaid do not provide reimbursement for out-of-network services across any specialty.

Provider Credentialing and Contracting

The credentialing or provider enrollment process within an insurance network encompasses two main phases: Credentialing and Contracting. During the credentialing phase, insurance companies meticulously review all credentials to ensure compliance with network participation requirements. Subsequently, the contracting phase involves issuing a participating provider agreement, outlining the terms and conditions for receiving in-network reimbursement.

Provider credentialing, also known as primary source verification, involves an exhaustive background check conducted by insurance companies on physicians. This process encompasses validating the provider’s educational background, legal authorization, and medical competency. The credentialing process commences with the submission of a participation request, typically in the form of an application. These participation requests may vary, ranging from unique credentialing applications to the completion of standardized applications such as CAQH.

Enrollment Application

Upon receipt of a provider enrollment application, insurance companies meticulously verify the provider’s credentials to ensure compliance with credentialing requirements. The credentialing process typically spans up to 90 days, beginning with the approval of the application by the credentialing committee, followed by the contracting phase.

In many cases, insurance companies maintain separate staff dedicated to the contracting process, distinct from the credentialing department. During the contracting phase, providers have the opportunity to negotiate reimbursement rates and review the contractual language, outlining their responsibilities of participation. Providers can engage in negotiations if the standard reimbursement rates offered by the company do not align with their expectations.

Credentialing Agreement

Upon signing and returning the credentialing agreement to the network, providers are assigned a unique provider number and an effective date, allowing them to commence billing the plan and receive in-network reimbursement for their claims. Typically, networks complete this process within 30-45 days.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare

Credentialing within government health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare follows a distinct procedure. These programs adhere to standardized forms that necessitate completion and submission to the relevant administrative authority overseeing all administrative functions. Medicare and Medicaid meticulously scrutinize applications against stringent enrollment criteria.

United Medical Billing Solutions website offers valuable enrollment guidance concerning the Medicare Provider Enrollment process. Seeking assistance from an individual experienced in government health program enrollment to review your application before submission can prove beneficial.


Navigating the credentialing process can be arduous, laborious, and time-consuming, occasionally leading to frustration. Attempting to navigate this process independently can be overwhelming and often consumes more time and resources than enlisting the services of a professional advocate for the provider.

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