Category Archives: Modifiers

Any anesthesiologists in the house? And by “the house” I mean California.

I don’t know how many of my California anesthesiologist readers are contracted with Medi-Cal, but I am sure there are a few of you. 

I am also sure that you know how little they pay you. But, I have recently figured out a way to get them to pay you a small amount more. 

Usually, Medi-Cal will only pay for anesthesia for one service per day. It had never mattered that the anesthesia was for a different surgery at a different time on a different body part. 

But in 2015 CMS started using the X (EPSU) modifiers. Applying them to the appropriate line item has allowed me to increase my provider’s reimbursement from Medi-Cal to all line items submitted on the claim. The modifiers are as follows: 

  • XE – “Separate encounter, A service that is distinct because it occurred during a separate encounter” This modifier should only be used to describe separate encounters on the same date of service.
  • XS – “Separate Structure, A service that is distinct because it was performed on a separate organ/structure”
  • XP – “Separate Practitioner, A service that is distinct because it was performed by a different practitioner”
  • XU – “Unusual Non-Overlapping Service, The use of a service that is distinct because it does not overlap usual components of the main service”

Use the modifier on the line that pays less, just in case the automatic processing system decides it hates your particular claim. Also, since Medi-Cal does not accept more than one modifier per line, remember to use your 99 and indicate the modifiers in box 19. 

Call or email with any questions. 

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Filed under Anesthesia, Medi-Cal, Medical Billing, Modifiers

Heads up for my ophthalmologist friends

Hello my ophthalmologist friends!

Medicare is changing the rules for the 92235 and the 92240. Up until 2017 we would bill two line items of those codes with RT/LT modifiers. According to the new edits, as of 2017 those codes are bilateral. If you separate them and use the RT/LT modifiers your claim will be denied. 

If you already sent them that way, you can use your local Medicare site to do a simple claim correction and get that updated. 

For the FA and the ICG this year, you bill just one line item with no modifiers. And, yes, we will get paid less. 

Sorry. 

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Filed under CMS, Medical Billing, Medicare, Modifiers, ophthalmology

Modifiers 24 and 79

A few months ago we had to do some training on our ophthalmologist account regarding when to bill the 24 modifier versus the 79 modifier in the global period to a surgery or in-office procedure. I figure, if our employees are having questions, some of you might be too, and I want you to get the maximum reimbursement for your services. First, the exact descriptions of the modifiers from the CPT book:

24 – Unrelated Evaluation and Management Service by the Same Physician or Other Qualified Health Care Professional During a Post-operative Period:
The physician or other qualified health care professional may need to indicate that an evaluation and management service was performed during a postoperative period for a reason(s) unrelated to the original procedure. This circumstance may be reported by adding modifier 24 to the appropriate level of E/M service.

79 – Unrelated Procedure or Service by the Same Physician or Other Qualified Health Care Professional During the Postoperative Period:
The individual may need to indicate that the performance of a procedure or service during the postoperative period was unrelated to the original procedure. This circumstance may be reported by using modifier 79. (For repeat procedures on the same day, see modifier 76.)

Many of our doctors do both minor and major surgeries, and we all know that patients need to come back in for follow up care on their various incisions, wounds, and ulcers to make sure everything is healing properly. The insurance companies will not pay for these follow up visits, or any visit done in a certain amount of time after the procedure without the proper modifiers as they consider the follow up visit to be an integral part of the original procedure. This time period is called the global period and the length of time varies depending on the procedure performed.  The issue with this no-payment rule comes in when the doctor diagnosis the patient with something additional during the follow up visit, or the patient needs another procedure. At that point, the doctor needs to do a complete visit including review of systems and exam and make a medical decision, and we can all agree that she should be paid for that. Here is how you get her paid. Modifier 24 goes on the office visit and you make sure you have a primary diagnosis that is different than the diagnosis on the original procedure. If the patient needs any in-office procedures, put a 79 on the procedure and make sure the diagnosis is different than the one on the original procedure. If the patient needs another major surgery in that time period, unrelated to the original, use modifier 79 as the first modifier on the surgery.  Just to avoid confusion, whether you use the modifier 24 or the modifier 79, the modifier would go on the visit subsequent to the surgery or in-office procedure.

To answer a popular question, yes, you can use modifier 79 when you are billing for the same surgery on a different body part. For example, if the patient had a cataract surgery on the left eye in January and he is getting cataract surgery on his right eye in February, you can use the same diagnosis of cataracts, the same CPT code for the surgery, and add the 79 modifier. Here is how that would look:

Date                          ICD9 code            CPT Code    Modifiers

01/13/14                 366.17                    66984             LT

02/18/14                366.17                    66984              79    RT

As for using the 24 modifier, there are all kinds of good, justifiable reasons to bill with that modifier and get your office visit paid separately. Here are just a few:

1) Patient is requesting a refill on medication for her chronic condition (hypertension, diabetes, hypothyroidism, migraines, neuralgia)

2) The patient came in with an unrelated chief complaint on his follow up visit

3) Patient came in for the follow up and the doctor identified symptoms of something else during the exam

This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if you are not sure whether or not your particular patient meets the requirements for using a 24 on the office visit, send me a quick email and I’ll let you know how I would bill it. Here is an example of how a charge like that would look.

Date                          ICD9 code                             CPT Code    Modifiers

01/13/14                  366.17                                    66984             LT

02/18/14                 250.60    362.01                  99214             24

I also have another chart for you (I love charts!) detailing the global period for each procedure. It is LONG. I do not suggest you print this one out, but save it on your own computer for reference. Oh, and, the global period for any given code is either going to be 10 days or 90 days, if it has one at all. FYI. As always, I saved the chart to my Links and Tools page for you.

EDIT: Just a quick FYI, global surgery rules do not apply to assistant surgeons. So, anyone who is billing a code for a provider assisting with a surgery, these rules don’t actually apply to you. Just go ahead and use modifiers 80-82 the way you’ve been doing. In fact, if we do send in a claim with modifier 79 (or 78 for that matter), the claim will actually be returned as unprocessable. Thank you, Adam, for helping to clear up the confusion.

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Filed under Billing, Claims, CPT, Doctor's Office, Follow up, Health Care, ICD9, Medical Billing, Modifiers, Office Visit

Modifier 25 and 59 update

I have an Updated modifier chart for you guys. We have been finding that the insurances are denying the immunization administration (90471) without a 25 modifier on the office visit and a 59 on the 90471. If you were using the old one, please replace it with the updated rules. For a more detailed explanation of how these modifiers work, please see the post from 01/11/13.

And this new chart is fancy and it’s typed and has examples. Hope it helps. I have also had a few inquiries on when to use the modifier 24 and 79, so my next post will be about how to use those effectively. Also, if anyone has a question for us, please do not hesitate to email or comment.

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Filed under 96372, Billing, Claims, CPT, Doctor's Office, Medical Billing, Modifiers, Office Visit

Everything you ever wanted to know about pap smears

**DISCLAIMER**  

***This post was written in 2014 and the rules have changed since then. I am going to be putting up a new post with the new rules updated to ICD10 very soon. There are some major changes to the way the insurances accept the charges and this an old post with the old rules. If you have any questions, and can’t wait for the new post, please email me directly and I will try and help you out.*** 

The first thing about paps is that every insurance pays them differently. To tell the truth, I don’t have most of it memorized. What I do have is a binder, with one page per insurance, and all of the pap rules are laid out there, in alphabetical order.

Of course, I’m going to give those to you. I suggest you do what I do and put them all in a three ring binder. However, I can only give you the PPO pap smear rules, because your HMO contracts will not be the same as the contracts for my doctors. I can show you a few of my HMO rules, though, so when/if you make your own reference sheets you know what the necessary information is.

You CAN get an office visit and a pap smear paid on the same date on the same claim. You just need to use proper modifiers. Also, most insurances allow patients to self refer for their annual exam, so you shouldn’t have to worry about authorizations.

Here are the Pap rules for PPO insurances. For your HMO insurances, all you need to do is call the provider relations department and get a copy of the doctor’s contract. The contract will be fairly short, and very clear about which codes are paid. However, you will need to ask the provider relations people which diagnosis they need to see on the claims.

If you want to review the high risk rules you can find those on the MR website. Here is a link, for the curious.

Remember to follow the blog; you’ll get an email every time I get a new post up. Also, if you have a specific question, please don’t hesitate to email me.

 

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Filed under Billing, Claims, CPT, Doctor's Office, Health Care, ICD9, Medical Billing, Modifiers, Pap smears, Well woman exam

Modifer 25 and 59

We are training several new employees right now. Glad to be expanding, progressing as expected, blah, blah, blah. But they are having a great deal of trouble with understanding when to use the modifiers 25 and 59. If we are having issues in here, some of you out there might be as well, and I want to make your life easier. First, for you technical types here are the exact descriptions from the CPT book.

Modifier 25 – Significant, Separately Identifiable Evaluation and Management Service by the Same Physician on the Same Day of the Procedure or Other Service:
It may be necessary to indicate that on the day a procedure or service identified by a CPT code was performed, the patient’s condition required a significant, separately identifiable E/M service above and beyond the other service provided or beyond the usual preoperative and postoperative care associated with the procedure that was performed. A significant, separately identifiable E/M service is defined or substantiated by documentation that satisfies the relevant criteria for the respective E/M service to be reported (see Evaluation and Management Services Guidelines for instructions on determining level of E/M service). The E/M service may be prompted by the symptom or condition for which the procedure and/or service was provided. As such, different diagnoses are not required for reporting of the E/M services on the same date. This circumstance may be reported by adding modifier 25 to the appropriate level of E/M service. Note: This modifier is not used to report an E/M service that resulted in a decision to perform surgery. See modifier 57. For significant, separately identifiable non-E/M services, see modifier 59.

Modifier 59 – Distinct Procedural Service:
Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to indicate that a procedure or service was distinct or independent from other non-E/M services performed on the same day. Modifier 59 is used to identify procedures or services, other than E/M services, that are not normally reported together but are appropriate under the circumstances. Documentation must support a different session, different procedure or surgery, different site or organ system, separate incision or excision, separate lesion, or separate injury (or area of injury in extensive injuries) not ordinarily encountered or performed on the same day by the same individual. However, when another already established modifier is appropriate it should be used rather than modifier 59. Only if no more descriptive modifier is available and the use of modifier 59 best explains the circumstances should modifier 59 be used. Note: Modifier 59 should not be appended to an E/M service. To report a separate and distinct E/M service with a non-E/M service performed on the same date, see modifier 25.

Now for some practical application. The modifier 25 goes on the office visit.  Here are the situtations in which you need a modifier: 1) If a patient gets a procedure on the same day as an office visit, 2) medication injected same day as an office visit, 3) pap smear done same day as an office visit, 4) physical done same day as an office visit. Don’t worry, we’re about to go through and lay out how we are supposed to use them.

If you need to bill an office visit and a procedure, you would use a modifier 25 on the office visit line. A procedure counts as any CPT code between 10000 and 69999. Plus, you need a different diagnosis on the procedure than you have on the office visit. Here is an example:

A patient comes in with ear pain and the doctor diagnoses her with an ear infection and does an ear lavage. If you want to get both the 99213 and the 69210 paid on the same visit here is how you would enter that charge:

Ear pain/otalgia (ICD9 388.70) (ICD10 H92.09)           99213  –  25

Ear infection (ICD9 382.9) (ICD10 H66.90)                   69210

When you put it in with a different dx on the office visit and  a 25 modifier the insurance will pay each line item separately.

Paps and physicals work in a similar way. The medical dx go on the office visit and the V-codes go on the preventive service. I could write a whole post on paps (and probably will) but we are going to keep it simple here.

465.9 (ICD10 J06.9)    462 (ICD10 J02.9)                      99213  –  25

V70.0                                                                               99395

When you need to bill an office visit and an injection on the same day, you have two options. The cpt 96372 is for an intramuscular injection of a J-code. You can bill the office visit and the substance all day and they will all get paid separately with no modifiers. The injection administration is what the insurances like to include in the office visit. However, you will get paid about $20.00 for each administration billed correctly and that can add up. Say a patient comes in with knee pain and the doctor diagnoses him with osteoarthritis and wants to give him an injection of Toradol. You put the symptom on the office visit with a 25 modifier and the substance and the admin have the condition. Then, you put a 59 modifier on the 96372. So, it would be three line items and it would look like this:

Knee pain       719.46 (ICD10 M25.569)                        99213  –  25

Osteoarthritis  715.96 (ICD10 M17.9)                            J1885

Osteoarthritis  715.96 (ICD10 M17.9)                            96372  –  59

I have attached an Updated modifier chart that will tell you when a service needs a modifier. We printed this out and gave it to all the new people and it seemed to clear up most of the confusion.

As always, call or email if you have any specific questions about something that didn’t make it through here on the blog.

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Filed under Billing, Claims, CPT, Health Care, ICD9, Medical Billing, Modifiers