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Editor’s Note:
Betsy Nicoletti, MS, a nationally accustomed coding expert, will booty your coding questions via email and accommodate advice on how to cipher appropriately to aerate reimbursement. Accept a catechism about coding? Send it here.



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In this column, Nicoletti shares means to get reimbursed for telehealth, including new codes to use starting abutting year, additional how to appropriately bill for blast casework involving a patient.

Question: I am in a clandestine ancestors anesthetic convenance and accept patients with clandestine allowance (such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and UnitedHealthcare). If I accomplish an arrangement appointment via telehealth, do I use abode of account cipher 02, or add modifiers CG/GT?

Answer: There are specific Medicare rules for telehealth, but let’s alpha with coding and agreement for clandestine payers. Anniversary clandestine allowance aggregation determines its own agreement action for telehealth.



The aboriginal footfall is to analysis with anniversary aggregation to see whether telehealth is a paid service. Then, do use abode of account 02 (telehealth) on the affirmation form, not abode of account 11 (office). Also, use Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) modifier 95, ancillary telemedicine account rendered via a real-time alternate audio and video telecommunications system. This modifier was added to CPT in 2017. Your agents will charge to verify that the insurer recognizes and pays telehealth claims.

Medicare alone allows telehealth if the accommodating is in an underserved area. You can apprehend their action here.

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In 2020, CPT will accept three new codes for physicians, assistant practitioners (NPs), and physician administration (PAs) to use for online agenda appraisal and administration (E/M) services. These codes, able January 1, 2020, are authentic as “online agenda appraisal and administration service, for an accustomed patient, for up to 7 canicule accumulative time during the 7 days.” Use 99421 for a account of 5-10 minutes, 99422 for account of 11-20 minutes, and 99423 for account of 21 or added minutes.

Unfortunately, the proposed fees for these casework are low: about $15 for 99421, about $31 for 99422, and about $50 for 99423. Because these are CPT codes and Medicare is allotment them an alive cachet indicator, best payers will admit and pay them, but they will crave accommodating accord for agenda account and tracking, as able-bodied as affidavit of the time that was spent.

Question: I am a pediatric pulmonologist in an bookish practice, and we do a cogent cardinal of over-the-phone recommendations but aren’t announcement for these. Can we bill for buzz recommendations (for example, starting articulate steroids for patients with asthma, starting antibiotics for patients with cystic fibrosis, or discussing CT results)? 

Answer: Physicians, NPs, and PAs in all specialties allot hours of time to activities that are not anon reimbursed. In the case of buzz calls, there are few acceptable alternatives.

There are CPT codes for buzz calls, but they are assigned noncovered cachet by Medicare and crave accommodating acquittal for best allowance companies.

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Codes 99441 to 99443 are time-based and are authentic as “telephone appraisal and administration account by a physician or added able bloom affliction able who may address appraisal and administration casework provided to an accustomed patient, parent, or guardian not basic from a accompanying E/M account provided aural the antecedent 7 canicule nor arch to an E/M account or action aural the abutting 24 hours or soonest accessible appointment.” Both the restrictiveness of the analogue and the defalcation cachet accomplish application these nonstarters for best practices.

There is a Healthcare Common Action Coding Arrangement (HCPCS) cipher that can be acclimated for buzz calls or added online communications. Currently, it requires specific accommodating accord afore anniversary use and reimburses about $15, nationally. Verbal accord from the accommodating is sufficient, so offices don’t charge to defended accounting consent.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Casework (CMS) is currently belief how frequently accord would be needed: every time, or as allotment of a accepted consult. We’ll apperceive added back CMS finalizes its 2020 Physician Fee Schedule in November.

Because it is a HCPCS and not a CPT code, not all payers will admit it. G2012 is authentic as “brief advice technology-based service, e.g., basic check-in, by a physician or added able bloom affliction able who can address appraisal and administration services, provided to an accustomed patient, not basic from a accompanying E/M account provided aural the antecedent 7 canicule nor arch to an E/M account or action aural the abutting 24 hours or soonest accessible appointment; 5-10 account of medical discussion.” It carries the aforementioned restrictions accompanying to a above-mentioned E/M account or scheduling and E/M account as the aftereffect of the call.

Neither of these are adorable options for advantageous clinicians for time spent on the phone.

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Although payer agreement options are limited, your convenance can authorize a patient-paid fee for buzz casework or absolute inquiries to your accommodating aperture instead. 

Accept a coding question? Send it in and it may be answered in a approaching column. (Please be abiding to agenda your specialty in the argument of the question.)

Medscape Business of Medicine © 2019 WebMD, LLC

Any angle bidding aloft are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the angle of WebMD or Medscape.

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Cite this: Betsy Nicoletti. New Means to Get Paid for Telehealth Services – Medscape – Oct 14, 2019.

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