resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Practice Policy (Gone Bad): The Sign
Every once in a while, you see something and think to yourself, That's a really bad idea. Case in point: I went to see my medical doctor the other day. Just after being "roomed," as they say, the nurse checked my vital signs. Then she left.
The Zen Art of "One Point"
We were always told in our Zen Shiatsu training (by Japanese and Japanese American instructors) that our ultimate aim was to to find that "One Point." To be so focused we could touch just one point to transform Qi throughout a client's body.
Modernization of Chinese Medicine
Language – written, spoken, signed, or otherwise is learned as a means to express our individualized perceptions about the world around us. Language is designed to communicate our personal experiences.
Oriental Medicine on the World Stage
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." This simple, yet powerful statement was lived out time and time again by so many of the athletes from around the world during the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
Help: A Need at Every Level
One of the great gifts of training in acupuncture is the ability to take good care of oneself. I recently had a bout of frozen shoulder — an inflammatory syndrome which can be debilitatingly painful and take years to resolve.
Harvard Health References Flawed AHA Position Paper
In its special health report, "Stroke: Diagnosing, Treating, and Recovering From a 'Brain Attack,'" Harvard Health Publications includes information from the American Heart Association's 2014 position statement on cervical manipulation and cervical dissection – a statement the American Chiropractic Association emphasized in a letter to Harvard Health mixes "scientific facts with half-truths."
Fertility and Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Starting or expanding one's family is a major milestone. It's something that more and more people seek out health care advice and support for.
Acupuncture Rising: From Acupuncture Anesthesia to Assisted-IVF, Part 1
Acupuncture's cultural and historical roots go back to the emergence of Chinese civilization. For more than 2,000 years, acupuncture needling has been continuously practiced on the largest population in the world.
Patient-Centered Care vs. Payer Restrictions: Your Ethical Obligation
Do you have an ethical obligation to evaluate your patients, make a diagnosis and provide evidence-based, patient-centered health care, irrelevant to the payer restrictions?
More Chiropractors Required
An intriguing study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine examines how "chiropractic care affects use of primary care physician (PCP) services."
News in Brief
Call for Abstracts Announced - Parker Las Vegas 2016; Logan Adds Doctorate Degree; New Role for Dr. James Edwards.
Practicing with Authenticity
To extrapolate from the above quote, patients love healthcare providers they can trust. One way to earn the trust of your patients is by practicing with authenticity. What does that mean, exactly?
Change Lives by Supporting Chiropractic Research: Are You In?
The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR), in celebration of its 20th anniversary, has announced it is spearheading a fund-raising campaign to support chiropractic research.
The Short Leg Dilemma
When evaluating a new patient, it is common to note a relative shortening of one leg to the other. Some patients will even tell you they have one, and then pull out the store-bought heel lift they read about online.
Getting a YES: An Effective Strategy for Overcoming Patient Objections
Patients make more excuses for declining care from an acupuncturist than perhaps any other type of doctor. Various reasons hold them back from making a commitment to care.
Fish Oil: A Key Component of Positive Clinical Outcomes
Patients seem to be presenting with more complex problems, and many are responding to care more slowly or have completely unexpected results. Why?
Dorsiflexion Dysfunction: Evaluation & Manipulation Techniques
Almost every condition from the foot to the hip can be attributed to the inability to dorsiflex the ankle mortice and other joints that participate in dorsiflexion. Let's start by understanding normal versus abnormal dorsiflexion.
Healing Trauma: Cultivating Resilience and Presence Through Mindfulness, Part 2
In the last issue of Acupuncture Today, the first part of this article introduced the topic of trauma and resilience, and their relationship to the autonomic nervous system response and the concept of the spirit being grounded in the body, and suggested the importance of mindfulness as a tool for healing.
Improving Communication Between AOM and Biomedical Providers
How comfortable do you feel talking to Western medical providers? If you are like me, you may not feel as comfortable as you would like. Some of my interactions with MD's haven't been the fruitful steps toward integrative medicine for which I had hoped.
Nuts Reduce Risk of Heart Disease, Cancer and Other Health Problems
Several recent studies suggest regular consumption of nuts may provide a significant degree of protection against certain types of cancer, heart disease, possibly type 2 diabetes and some neurodegenerative diseases.
The New Age of Communication
In the age of technology, everyone, including the patient, is seeking faster, easier ways to communicate. With a wealth of social media, blogs, websites and videos, we are constantly barraged with information – to the point of overload.
The Food Conversation: Nutrition and Your Practice
It's morning and your first patient rolls in with a triple espresso steaming in one hand and a frazzled, desperate look in her eye. "You gotta help me, doc, I am constipated unless I drink one of these, and I am exhausted and anxious all the time."
An Acupuncturist's View of Medicinal Marijuana
The use of cannabis for medical purposes is very controversial. Use as a panacea by physicians uninitiated to the proper application of herbal medicine, as well as an excuse for recreational use have greatly confused the issue.
Surprising Reasons for Orthotic Efficacy
Clinical outcome studies show orthotics are effective in the management of a wide range of injuries, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
A Chiropractor's Guide to Yoga
"Doctor, can I continue to do yoga while undergoing your care?" "Is it OK for me to go back to yoga while I'm getting my back treated?" "It is safe to start my yoga classes again after my neck pain improves?"
Do Some Good and Grow Your Business with Cause Marketing
Cause marketing is truly one of the best ways that you can promote your services as a acupuncture professional. Cause marketing refers to a type of marketing where a business partners with a non-profit organization to help bring awareness to a charitable cause.
February, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 02
Coding for Insurance Billing and Medicare Issues
By Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT
From the phone calls and e-mails I've received from massage therapists across the country and a recent survey taken by AMTA, it's evident there are a variety of CPT Codes being used by massage therapists for billing insurance.Many of those codes used include deleted codes, codes not in our scope of practice, codes that raise red flags with insurers for a variety of reasons and correct codes used in conjunction with incorrect codes.
Coding and billing requirements and opportunities have changed over the years. When I began billing insurance in late 1984, I billed by using code 97139, (an unspecified procedure code). I used the term, "soft tissue manipulation," eliminating the words "massage or massage therapy." This worked fine for several years until my first Blue Cross case.
It was an eye opener when Blue Cross only reimbursed $12 for a full hour session. After continued research and questions, I soon learned about the fifteen minute increment billing requirements by some insurers. In my desire to find ways to get massage therapists in the system so to speak, I began to do more research and began practicing with other codes. It was then I learned that Blue Cross would only reimburse for CPT Code 97124 (massage). Billing the way Blue Cross required I was then reimbursed $48 for the full hour. Getting an increase from $12 to $48 was an exciting time!
Workers' compensation in Florida, at that time (as with many states yet today), was way behind the times when it came to coding, so I had to bill differently with them using codes not used with any other carrier. Over the years, my office expanded the use of codes as we were reimbursed for them. However, as time went on and the reimbursement amounts began to increase, we began to reduce the number of codes we experimented with to simplify things.
Because I am a provider of CEU'S for insurance billing seminars and home study courses, I became a lot more conservative in order to protect you, who now bill insurance companies. It's now to the point where possibly the only available and necessary procedure code(s) are 97124 (massage) for basic Swedish massage, and 97140 (Manual Therapy Techniques), because it encompasses myofascial release, manual traction and manual lymphatic drainage and because reimbursement now is at a fairer rate in most cases.
There are many "techniques" of massage, but there are no codes to represent these "techniques." We must use those procedure codes available to us that are within our scope of practice. Of course, there always are those codes for modalities which might be used if within a therapists scope of practice, such as whirlpool, infrared, contrast baths, electrical stimulation, hydrotherapy, paraffin baths, etc. Be sure you know and stay within the scope of practice for the state you practice in.
Documentation is the key to getting paid for the time spent and the codes used. Following the doctor's prescriptions, billing for the same procedure or modality that is on the prescription and documenting exactly that, are the keys to being better paid without delays, denials or reductions, and only accepting cases that will reimburse a massage therapist. Not all types of cases are reimbursable to a massage therapist.
As time goes on, I am sure coding changes or definitions will work more in our favor but until it does, let's use common sense and don't try to go overboard as it only raises red flags with insurance companies that could set us back many years. Stick to your scope of practice and with what is written on the prescription. Make sure your progress (SOAP) notes reflect what the prescription calls for and that your bills reflect both the prescription orders and your documentation.
There is a company called Alternative Link/ABC Coding working on an entirely different coding system for each alternative provider. These codes ultimately would incorporate each technique used by a massage therapist or other alternative care providers. However, until these codes can be used by all therapists and accepted by all insurers, I will be keeping in close contact with them. I will inform you of any changes or abilities to use this coding system when it becomes available. For more information on this coding system please contact Connie Koshewa at: .
The Medicare Issue
For more information on the coalition to Preserve Patient Access to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, please contact me if you did not receive this information on my recent "Massage Insurance Updates" e-mail. If you are not on that list but want to be, please e-mail your request to me at .
Click here for more information about Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.
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