Proper coding of physician services is essential to efficient billing and the optimization of reimbursement from payers, including commercial and governmental entities. The CPT® codes issued by the American Medical Association (AMA) to describe physician procedures are supposed to be recognized as standards, but in practice they are not accepted equally by all payers. One example is CPT codes in the range 99241-99255 that describe consultation services. These are most often used by interventional radiologists, as described in our article Coding and Billing Considerations in Interventional Radiology.
Just as you were done revising your practice systems and processes for Meaningful Use and MACRA/MIPS, a new Medicare mandate came along. One of the biggest challenges for radiology practices right now is to be able to comply with the requirement that ordering physicians use a Clinical Decision Support Mechanism (CDSM) to consult Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) when ordering MR, CT, PET and other specified nuclear medicine exams. This rule has been on the books since 2014, but it will begin to be implemented in 2020 followed by the imposition of penalties in 2021. This is not a voluntary bonus like Meaningful Use, or the avoidance of a small fee reduction under MIPS, but rather it means there will be NO payment to the radiologist for procedures performed without using the appropriate process.
In September, we published the article Out-of-Network Balance Billing Laws Are Important for Radiologists to Be Aware Of about the New Jersey law that states patients receiving emergency or urgently needed services will not be required to pay any more than the deductible, copayment or coinsurance they would normally pay whether the hospital and/or its physicians are in-network or out-of-network with the patient’s insurance plan. Here are some more pieces of information we think you should know:
New Jersey is the latest state to pass legislation that will affect the amount a radiology practice can collect from patients whose insurance is not accepted by the practice. While an imaging center would be careful to work with their patients in advance of providing services, the hospital setting does not always afford that opportunity. It is imperative that you know the laws not only in the state(s) where you practice but also to keep abreast of federal regulations that might impact your billing and collections.
Our 2014 article "Interventional Radiology Meets Radiation Oncology – The y-90 Story” focused on the documentation requirements that will assist coders to maximize reimbursement for this complex procedure. Those documentation tips are still valid today. This update reviews the 2017 state-of-the-art in coding for y-90 procedures.
A radiology practice that performs interventional procedures will want to be up to date on the use of documentation and coding techniques for Evaluation and Management (E&M) services. These CPT® codes in the 99xxx range are less commonly utilized in radiology practices. Identifying circumstances where E&M services are billable, and then properly documenting and coding for them, will require a collaborative effort between the interventional radiologist (IR) and his or her coding team.
Radiologists considering the use of an outside service for final reads will have questions that include not only quality and cost but also the impact on the group’s relationship with its hospital and referring physician community. The answer will not be the same for every radiology practice. Here we present some of the pros and cons for consideration in the decision-making process.
Maximizing the patient experience is no longer limited to the achievement of clinical success. It is a critical component of the new, broader partnership between provider and patient – one that now encompasses conversations regarding not only service quality and cost, but also places a greater focus on practice billing processes in line with the higher demands inherent to the new patient consumerism trend.
Before the days of managed care, insurance plans were “indemnity coverage” that reimbursed patients for their out-of-pocket costs. Physicians billed the patients and got paid when the patients felt like making payment, usually only after the insurance company had reimbursed them. Often, the insurance money went elsewhere in the patient’s budget and the physician waited for payment. The not-so-good old days! With the advent of managed care contracting where physicians were paid directly by the insurance company, patient balance collections mostly disappeared. Today the pendulum is swinging back in the opposite direction, requiring practices to once again face the necessity to collect significant balances from patients.
If you follow the leading voices in the radiology community, you know that the topic of “value” is a recurring theme of current conversations. It is a core concept behind Imaging 3.0 and has dominated recent seminars, webinars, social media chatter and more for months thanks to MACRA and the many changes it is bringing to provider compensation models. And whatever changes the next wave of governmental healthcare policy washes into the boardrooms of group practices, when the murky waters recede, it is a safe bet that proof-of-value will still remain on the table as a mandate for radiologists going forward.