resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Leaving Footprints on Capitol Hill: Tribute to Dr. Kenneth Luedtke (1930-2014)
It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Dr. Ken Luedtke.
Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
The CDC came out with a report in March 2013 that suggests 1 in 50 children will be diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum – significantly higher than the 1 in 86 figure that came out in 2007. What does this mean moving forward, particularly for children?
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
November, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 11
By Ed Denning, MEd, LMT
CPT means Current Procedural Terminology. Massage therapists may not use any CPT codes from any area of the American Medical Association (AMA) CPT code manual outside of the physical medicine and rehabilitation pages.The CPT codes massage therapists can use without question are: 97010 - hot and cold packs; 97124 - massage; and 97140 - manual therapy. In my opinion, any other code is questionable and should be avoided unless the user has certifications that have specified the CPT code that represents the procedure they are training you to use.
Codes 97124 and 97140 should not be used to bill for activities within the same session. Most of us could not distinguish when our therapist transitioned between the techniques used in 97124 to the techniques used in 97140 and vice versa. 97001 and 97002 are for physical therapy evaluation; these codes are for physical therapists and should not be used by massage therapists. Their use implies that the user is a physical therapist. 97112 is not the code for neuromuscular therapy; use 97140 instead.
The codes may change from year to year. If you are going to be a user, you will need a yearly updating service to be sure you are current on the CPT codes available for your use.
Distinct Procedural Service
CPT Code Modifier - 59. The purpose of CPT code modifiers is to clarify the activity and intent of the therapist. An example would be modifier -59. This modifier is used to report Distinct Procedural Service. The following example will help clarify its proper use:
A client schedules an appointment for therapy of carpal tunnel symptoms in both wrists and hands. The therapist has confirmed with the insurance company that it will pay for their services. An hour session is scheduled. The work on the right arm and hand turns out to be very slow and detailed, requiring much more time than planned. The session ends with no work having been done on the left arm and hand. An appointment has canceled that same afternoon and the client is willing to return for work on the left side. This would be a new, separate appointment. The work on this arm is completed in an hour with good results.
If the therapist bills 97140 for both appointments with the same ICD code, it will look like double billing. To explain the apparent discrepancy the therapist would code the first session as 97140 and the second session with 97140-59.
Note that the use of the -59 modifier identifies two procedures of similar nature performed on the same individual within a single day or a few days. Using -59 modifier may raise flags with an insurance company and delay payment.
CPT Code Modifier - 52. CPT modifier -52 is for reduced services. Like -59, it is used to help explain what has taken place with one client. Its purpose is to identify and clarify the activities of the therapist. An example will help make its use clear:
The fee for the reduced service unit would be reduced also.
This code is being misused to justify differences between the fees for cash clients and insurance clients. That misuse is the result of a misunderstanding regarding the intent and purpose of the modifier. It is used to explain the time differential between two units of therapy, one of which is shorter than the other. In this case: one client, one two-unit session. The -52 modifier has nothing to do with the difference between the costs incurred with a cash client compared to an insurance client.
Unusual Procedural Services
CPT Code Modifier - 22. This code does not apply to any of the CPT codes massage therapists can use. It is intended for use with diagnostic and evaluation CPT codes, or very specific medical procedure codes. It is designed to report when the usual time period for that procedure is extended due to extenuating circumstances. This modifier will require a report to justify the additional time. Like modifiers -59 and -52, its application is to a single client and a single session.
Using modifiers to justify increased fees to insurance companies is a misuse of those codes and damages our relationships with the medical community and insurance companies. The use of CPT modifiers by massage therapists is seldom appropriate or necessary. The vast majority of us would keep to a schedule of full units, in which the use of modifiers would be for very unusual circumstances only.
Who do you charge the higher fee: A teacher, business executive, factory worker, or sales clerk?
The answer, of course, is that they all should be charged the same fee for the same service. Can you make exceptions? Sure! If I want to give a discount to teachers, I can. All fees charged need to be in a published list available to all clients. If all clients are to be treated the same, what about insurance clients? There are additional expenses involved in dealing with insurance. Unfortunately, there are no administrative or office codes available to massage therapists which we can use to pass on those costs.
A legitimate manner in which to charge a higher fee for your therapeutic services is to have a fee schedule posted that clearly indicates that therapeutic work is billed at a higher rate due to the increased skill level and attention to business details (paperwork). In that case, both the prescribed and non-prescribed therapeutic work would be billed at the same rate. Non-prescribed/non-therapeutic work could have a lower fee.
The difference between the costs of therapeutic-prescribed massage and non-therapeutic massage should not be 100 percent. We are not physicians. A 20 percent difference would be an acceptable and professional differential. The codes that will more accurately represent our services will be forthcoming; we need to practice restraint and patience for now.
An Insurance Company's Response to Coding Abuse
A major insurance carrier in Colorado has restricted all claims by massage therapists to CPT code 97124 and has set a maximum fee that it will pay. The company did this in response to the use of 95 different CPT codes by Colorado massage therapists, for which the therapists charged fees of up to $350 per hour.
Those who abused the system have been punished; however, every massage therapist who must work with that company has also been punished. Some of our colleagues abuse the medical payment system for the short-term gain. In the long term, they damage the massage industry and do harm to the majority of massage therapists who do not allow personal gain to interfere with ethical judgment.
I encourage all massage therapists to join a professional association and to lobby the leadership of their association to take action to educate its members about the legal and ethical responsibilities of coding and billing. It is time for the associations to stand up and protect their membership from the abusive billing strategies being taught at seminars all across the U.S.
Ed Denning is a licensed massage therapist in Ohio. He is coordinator of the massage therapy program at Stark State College of Technology, and also serves on the Massage Therapy Advisory Committee of the Ohio State Medical Board.
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