Our team of professionals and staff believe that informed patients are better equipped to make decisions regarding their health and well-being. For your personal use, we have created an extensive patient library covering an array of educational topics, which can be found on the side of each page. Browse through these diagnoses and treatments to learn more about topics of interest to you. On this specific page we will also try to answer some of the most common questions we get from our patients regarding office visits, billing and insurances.

As always, you can contact our office with any additional questions or concerns you might have! 

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is "Can you help me with my statement from the insurance company?"  So let's decipher these complicated statements.

EOB

How Physicians refer to your Explanation of Benefits (the statement from the insurance company regarding your doctor's visit).

Account Number

Your account number represents your number with the doctor that is assigned to you at your first visit.

Claim Number

Every claim is assigned a claim number, if you need to contact your insurance company it's helpful to have this number (will save you some time).

Date of Service

The date you saw your doctor.

Procedure Number

Here is where it gets tricky.  Every office visit is assigned a CPT code or numerical value.  Without giving everyone a billing lesson these generally run from 1 to 5 as in 99243, 99244, 99245 or 99213, 99214, 99215.  You may also see "surgical" codes here.  Whenever a physician treats you in the office whether by freezing, excising, scraping or removing, these codes fall under the "surgical" category.  

Units of Service

For example, if you had multiple Actinic Keratosis treated by liquid nitrogen you may see the first procedure number 17000 (first lesion destruction) and then you might see 17003 (4) units (second through fifth lesion destruction).  We have to code this way it's the law.

Billed Amount

The billed amount is just the amount the physician billed.  It is not the amount your coinsurance or deductible will be based on.  The doctor is required by both federal and state laws and by the contract with the insurance company to write off or adjust any amount over the "allowed amount."

Allowed Amount

This is the amount the insurance company determines the physician should charge for the procedure code.  

Contractual Adjustment Amount

This is the amount the physician must write off on primary insurance ONLY (physicians are not required to write off secondary or tertiary adjustments).

Deductible

The amount that you must pay out of pocket before the insurance company will start to pay your claims.  The physician is still required to write off the contractual adjustment even if you haven't met your deductible. 

Co-Pay

This can be the set amount you must pay at every visit and it can range from $5.00 to 75.00 or more.  This column also includes co-insurance, which represents percentage after the adjustment is made that is your responsibility.  Depending on your contract this can be 10% to 50% of the allowed charges.

Amount Paid

This is the amount that was sent to the doctor on your behalf. Also, notes at the bottom will explain why something was not allowed or why the insurance company is only paying a portion of the allowed charges and not all of them.

Additional Info

There should be a phone number on your explanation of benefits if you have any questions regarding the claim or why it was processed the way it was. Don't be afraid to contact your insurance company, sometimes an insurance company will process a claim "out of network" and the physician is "in network." If this error occurs, it will generally cost you more money.  However, insurance companies will often reprocess the claim if the original claim was processed in error.

It is also worth noting here that you choose your plan and your insurance company and your network.  The physician is not there with you guiding you during this process and that is the way it should be.  However, the physician has limited control over the terms you set with your insurance company - they are contractually prohibited from writing off co-pays or deductibles.  It is against the law for a physician to bill a procedure or office visit in a specific way only so that it may be covered by your insurance company.  They must bill for exactly what happened and when it happened.

Psoriasis is a skin condition that creates red patches of skin with white, flaky scales. It most commonly occurs on the elbows, knees and trunk, but can appear anywhere on the body. The first episode usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 35. It is a chronic condition that will then cycle through flare-ups and remissions throughout the rest of the patient's life. Psoriasis affects as many as 7.5 million people in the United States. About 20,000 children under age 10 have been diagnosed with psoriasis.

In normal skin, skin cells live for about 28 days and then are shed from the outermost layer of the skin. With psoriasis, the immune system sends a faulty signal which speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells. Skin cells mature in a matter of 3 to 6 days. The pace is so rapid that the body is unable to shed the dead cells, and patches of raised red skin covered by scaly, white flakes form on the skin.

Psoriasis is a genetic disease (it runs in families), but is not contagious. There is no known cure or method of prevention. Treatment aims to minimize the symptoms and speed healing.

Types of Psoriasis

There are five distinct types of psoriasis:

  • Plaque Psoriasis (Psoriasis Vulgaris)  About 80% of all psoriasis sufferers get this form of the disease. It is typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. It classically appears as inflamed, red lesions covered by silvery-white scales.
  • Guttate Psoriasis This form of psoriasis appears as small red dot-like spots, usually on the trunk or limbs. It occurs most frequently among children and young adults. Guttate psoriasis comes on suddenly, often in response to some other health problem or environmental trigger, such as strep throat, tonsillitis, stress or injury to the skin.
  • Inverse Psoriasis This type of psoriasis appears as bright red lesions that are smooth and shiny. It is usually found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and in skin folds around the genitals and buttocks.
  • Pustular Psoriasis  Pustular psoriasis looks like white blisters filled with pus surrounded by red skin. It can appear in a limited area of the skin or all over the body. The pus is made up of white blood cells and is not infectious. Triggers for pustular psoriasis include overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, irritating topical treatments, stress, infections and sudden withdrawal from systemic (treating the whole body) medications.
  • Erythrodermic Psoriasis One of the most inflamed forms of psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis looks like fiery, red skin covering large areas of the body that shed in white sheets instead of flakes. This form of psoriasis is usually very itchy and may cause some pain. Triggers for erythrodermic psoriasis include severe sunburn, infection, pneumonia, medications or abrupt withdrawal of systemic psoriasis treatment.

People who have psoriasis are at greater risk for contracting other health problems, such as heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes. It has also been linked to a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, depression, obesity and other immune-related conditions.

Psoriasis triggers are specific to each person. Some common triggers include stress, injury to the skin, medication allergies, diet and weather.

Treatment

Psoriasis is classified as Mild to Moderate when it covers 3% to 10% of the body and Moderate to Severe when it covers more than 10% of the body. The severity of the disease impacts the choice of treatments.

Mild to Moderate Psoriasis

Mild to moderate psoriasis can generally be treated at home using a combination of three key strategies: over-the-counter medications, prescription topical treatments and light therapy/phototherapy.

Over-the-Counter Medications

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved of two active ingredients for the treatment of psoriasis: salicylic acid, which works by causing the outer layer to shed, and coal tar, which slows the rapid growth of cells. Other over-the-counter treatments include:

  • Scale lifters that help loosen and remove scales so that medicine can reach the lesions.
  • Bath solutions, like oilated oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts that remove scaling and relieve itching.
  • Occlusion, in which areas where topical treatments have been applied are covered to improve absorption and effectiveness.
  • Anti-itch preparations, such as calamine lotion or hydrocortisone creams.
  • Moisturizers designed to keep the skin lubricated, reduce redness and itchiness and promote healing.

Prescription Topical Treatments

Prescription topicals focus on slowing down the growth of skin cells and reducing any inflammation. They include:

  • Anthralin, used to reduce the growth of skin cells associated with plaque.
  • Calcipotriene, that slows cell growth, flattens lesions and removes scales. It is also used to treat psoriasis of the scalp and nails.
  • Calcipotriene and Betamethasone Dipropionate. In addition to slowing down cell growth, flattening lesions and removing scales, this treatment helps reduce the itch and inflammation associated with psoriasis.
  • Calcitriol, an active form of vitamin D3 that helps control excessive skin cell production.
  • Tazarotene, a topical retinoid used to slow cell growth.
  • Topical steroids, the most commonly prescribed medication for treating psoriasis. Topical steroids fight inflammation and reduce the swelling and redness of lesions.

Light Therapy/Phototherapy

Controlled exposure of skin to ultraviolet light has been a successful treatment for some forms of psoriasis. Three primary light sources are used:

  • Sunshine (both UVA and UVB rays). Sunshine can help alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis, but must be used with careful monitoring to ensure that no other skin damage takes place. It is advised that exposure to sunshine be in controlled, short bursts.
  • Excimer lasers. These devices are used to target specific areas of psoriasis. The laser emits a high-intensity beam of UVB directly onto the psoriasis plaque. It generally takes between 4 and 10 treatments to see a tangible improvement.
  • Pulse dye lasers. Similar to the excimer laser, a pulse dye laser uses a different wavelength of UVB light. In addition to treating smaller areas of psoriasis, it destroys the blood vessels that contribute to the formation of lesions. It generally takes about 4 to 6 sessions to clear up a small area with a lesion.

Moderate to Severe Psoriasis

Treatments for moderate to severe psoriasis include prescription medications, biologics and light therapy/phototherapy.

Oral medications. This includes acitretin, cyclosporine and methotrexate. Your doctor will recommend the best oral medication based on the location, type and severity of your condition.

Biologics. A new classification of injectable drugs, biologics are designed to suppress the immune system. These tend to be very expensive and have many side effects, so they are generally reserved for the most severe cases.

Light Therapy/Phototherapy. Controlled exposure of skin to ultraviolet light has been a successful treatment for some forms of psoriasis. Two primary light sources are used:

  • Sunshine (both UVA and UVB rays). Sunshine can help alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis, but must be used with careful monitoring to ensure that no other skin damage takes place. It is advised that exposure to sunshine be limited to controlled, short bursts.
  • PUVA. This treatment combines a photosensitizing drug (psoralens) with UVA light exposure. This treatment takes several weeks to produce the desired result. In some severe cases, phototherapy using UVB light may lead to better results.