Bay Valley Accounting Professionals Ready for Tax Season, Medical Billing Holds Steady

Bay Valley Accounting Professionals, or Bay VAP, is one of two companies that Tawnya Montoya operates from the offices on the fourth floor of 4305 Hacienda Drive. The other one is Bottomline Medical Billing and Collections, which started as a small division of the bookkeeping and tax service but was spun off as a sister company because of the specialization involved.

In medical billing, a single physician can be dealing with hundreds of insurance companies, Montoya explains. They might all use the standard claim form. Most have automated systems that transmit information electronically, which significantly streamlines the process.

Still, the challenge is that every insurer has its own protocol for the medical expenses it covers. The billing process can get complicated and prolonged when an insurance company rejects a claim as medically unnecessary, something that happens more often with specialty physicians than with regular doctor visits, she notes. The billing service then has to go back to the doctor to request a Letter of Medical Necessity, and several rounds of communication ensue. Once the insurance company pays its portion, then the patient can be billed, and that usually requires active involvement as well.

"Our goal is to get the doctors paid in a timely fashion. There is lots of red tape, and things get lost in the shuffle, so it requires lots of follow-up," Montoya says, adding, "Good billers put the staff in place to handle that follow-up."

With her roster of experienced medical billing specialists, Montoya has the workforce she needs, primarily because she has always been careful in her hiring decisions. All of her staff are veterans in the field. "I don't hire newbies. In medical insurance you really have to know the business. It's hard to teach someone right out of school. The bigger companies have time for training, but I look for experience."

She is also particular about recruiting clients. "Our growth is based on word of mouth," she observes, noting that neither firm does much advertising. "We only just completed the web site for medical billing. Bay Valley Accounting Professionals still doesn't have one.

"Our focus is service," she continues. "I want to have stable relationships with long-term clients, and the best way to do that is through referrals."

That approach has kept business steady despite the economic doldrums. "We lost a few clients, but we continue to grow at a reasonable pace every year and add staff as needed. That's much better than having a sudden influx of clients and not being able to keep up," she comments.

On the accounting side, Bay VAP handles the financials for many different types of businesses, and, as an Enrolled Agent, Montoya also provides tax services. "Most of our bookkeeping clients have us do both. We can help them from a tax planning perspective, pointing out some savings strategies."

Asked about the latest tax news, she replies, "There is so much new legislation for tax purposes. If you have a question, talk to your professional preparer. It never hurts to ask." For more information, call (925) 737-0710.

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