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American Academy of Family Physicians
Thursday Oct 22, 2009

You might be a coding and payment geek if . . .

The arrival of the new ICD-9 manual recently reminded me that there are certain things that distinguish coding and payment geeks from otherwise "normal" people.  So, for your consideration, I offer you the top 10 signs that you might be a coding and payment geek:

10.  The first thing you associate with December is the arrival of the new CPT book.

9.  You actually get excited when your new coding books arrive.

8.  You wonder why the toy doctors bag you bought your kid doesn't include a claim form.

7.  You worry your family physician is undercoding your visit.

6.  You consider the Federal Register light reading.

5.  You write to CMS more than to your own mom.

4.  You actually understand Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate formula.

3.  You collect past issues of CPT Assistant on eBay.

2.  When your family physician tells you that you have conjunctivitis, you wonder what the ICD-9 code for that is.

 And the number one sign that you might be a coding and payment geek:

1.  You actually understood the humor in this blog post!

Friday Oct 09, 2009

Flu vaccinations: Do you want fries with that?

Do you have any pediatric patients who haven't been in for a preventive care service in more than a year? Adults who aren't coming in for regular blood pressure, cholesterol or other important screenings? These patients (or their parents) may be calling your office to make H1N1 and seasonal flu shot appointments in the weeks ahead, creating opportunities to provide them with overdue preventive services.

If it's not practical for your staff to determine what services the patient needs and discuss them when the patient calls to schedule a flu shot, you might consider brief counseling at the time of the vaccine administration about the need for specific preventive services and suggest scheduling an appointment for the near future. If you're short on time, simply reminding the patient of the date of the last visit might also remind him or her that preventive or chronic care management services are overdue.

This may also be a great time to gain new patients to your practice. Creating the atmosphere of a medical home around the vaccine services, as opposed to providing drive-thru medicine, could benefit both your practice and your patients.

They say that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. Maybe when life gives you an influenza outbreak, you can make opportunities to strengthen your patient relationships.

Friday Oct 02, 2009

Getting paid for H1N1-related services

Do you know where to obtain H1N1 vaccine for your patients and how to bill payers for its administration?

Free H1N1 vaccine kits are available through your state health agencies. The Centers for Disease Control has published a list of who to contact for information on obtaining the vaccine. If you do not wish to provide the vaccine in your practice, you can use this list to determine where to refer your patients.

Most privately insured patients will have benefits for the H1N1 vaccine administration even if their health plan does not typically cover preventive services; this is due to collaboration between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and payers. Medicare allows physicians to provide and bill for both H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccines on the same date. Medicare created a new G code for administration of the H1N1 vaccine; submit code G9141 with diagnosis code V04.81. It is not necessary to report a separate code for the vaccine itself, but if you prefer to include it in your documentation, use code G9142. If billed, this code will be denied since the vaccine is provided at no cost. For the standard seasonal influenza vaccine and administration, use codes G0008 for the administration, V04.81 for diagnosis, and the appropriate CPT code for the vaccine itself (i.e., 90655, 90656, 90657, 90658 or 90660). Medicare will not pay for an office visit if the sole purpose of the visit is vaccine administration but will if a significant, separately identifiable E/M service is provided on the same date.

Your local private payers may still be deciding on the coverage and payment for the H1N1 vaccine, but most national payers have provided some guidance. The recent creation of CPT code 90470 for H1N1 vaccine administration may cause some plans to issue revised instructions. We have requested updated guidance from national health plans and will update the AAFP resources on H1N1 with this information as we receive it. As with all services, practices should check the individual patient’s benefits when scheduling the services.

Finally, it’s important to know how to code and bill for care provided to patients who are sick with the flu. New influenza diagnosis codes took effect Oct. 1, 2009. Code 488.1 is specific to influenza due to the H1N1 virus. Code 487.1 is still valid for patients with influenza not otherwise specified and other respiratory manifestations such as pharyngitis, laryngitis or URI. Code 487.0 for reporting influenza with pneumonia is also still valid. When providing in-office testing for influenza, code 87804QW represents CLIA-waived testing for influenza by immunoassay with direct optical observation. Most rapid tests do not differentiate between Influenza A and B. However, for those that do produce two separate results, payers may accept 87804QW on one claim line and 87804QW59 on a separate claim line. As always, you should check with your individual payers for specific coverage and billing guidelines.

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