resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Treating LBP the Right Way: Think Natural
An updated clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends spinal manipulation and other non-invasive, non-drug therapies as first options for acute, subacute and chronic low back pain, rather than pain medications, as stipulated in the original 2007 guideline.
Scope of Chiropractic Practice: Why Now Is the Time to Expand
In my January article, "Scope of Chiropractic Practice: Is It Time for Change?" I discussed the use of the term primary spine care practitioner, the loss of privileges to diagnose in Texas, and the fact that the definition of "chiropractic" varied from state to state.
5 Ways to Enhance Your Family Practice
Every practice has a personality style. A practice that caters to athletes, PI cases or adults, for example, projects differently to patients than a family wellness practice.
Integrative Cardiology: The Heart of TCM & Western Medicine
Patient centered therapy is a growing trend in hospitals that are expanding to boutique services.
News In Brief
A "Modern" Business Model. Acupuncturists may have a new professional atmosphere to consider, as a new concept is on the horizon - at least for one business.
Waist Circumference: A Conversation Starter (Part 2)
Now let's discuss the clinical approach to reducing WC and implementation in today's chiropractic practice. The primary intervention centers around dietary modification and lifestyle habits aimed to reduce adiposity, improve insulin sensitivity and ultimately, diminish systemic metabolic dysfunction.
Good Works at the Canandaigua VA
Faculty and students of the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (FLSAOM) of the New York Chiropractic College have provided acupuncture to veterans at the Veterans' Administration Medical Center (VAMC) in Canandaigua, New York since September of 2007.
Chiropractic: A Great Fit for the White House
Dr. Eric Kaplan is a New York Chiropractic College alumnus; a No. 1 best-selling author whose books include Awaken the Wellness Within and The 5 Minute Motivator; a chiropractor for professional sports teams and elite athletes; and even served as an advisor under the Clinton Administration to the President's Council on Sports & Physical Fitness.
What's Bugging You? Probiotics and Your Health
An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.
Treating the Terrain of Chronic Sinus Infections
Chronic sinus infections can be stubborn to treat, but the therapeutic path forward can be simplified when utilizing three distinct treatment principles which take into account the terrain of the body, and the way in which microbes grow.
Shedding Light on the Benefits of Heliotherapy
I can't imagine anyone not feeling good strolling in the sun on a beautiful spring day. The sun is responsible for all life on earth and is best illustrated along the equator touting the richest biodiversity on the planet, in stark contrast to the Arctic Circle and South Pole.
Making Sense of Liver Regulation
In Chinese medicine, the liver has the function of moving and storing qi and blood. In its moving function, the liver smoothly distributes qi and blood to the tendons, muscles and flesh through microcirculation.
NSAIDs No Better Than Placebo for Spine Pain
A meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials comparing the efficacy and safety of NSAIDs with placebo for spinal pain concludes that among 6,065 spine pain patients, "NSAIDs reduced pain and disability, but provided clinically unimportant effects over placebo."
Toxicity & Kids: The Importance of Environmental Intake
The old adage is true that children are not little adults. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has long known that the physiology of children is unique, as are the diseases that plague them.
Caring for Refugees in Greece
At the beginning of 2016 I had no idea what was in store for me, but I was looking forward to a personal retreat on the Greek island of Paros; a graduation gift to myself after 22 years of motherhood, and four-plus years of Chinese medicine school.
The First (Only) Choice for Spinal Pain
The study on NSAIDs for spinal pain summarized on the front page of this issue is intriguing on a number of levels, the most obvious being the conclusion that "compared with placebo, NSAIDs do not provide a clinically important effect on spinal pain, and six patients must be treated with NSAIDs for one patient to achieve a clinically important benefit in the short-term."
Insomnia Treatment Based on the Yu Theory
In recent years, acupuncture has risen in popularity as a form of alternative or supplemental medicine for the treatment of many different types of disorders.
The Chiropractor's Guide to CRISPR
Science magazine's "Breakthrough of the Year" award for 2015 was described as "the gene-editing tool called CRISPR." CRISPR stands for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats."
The Qi Focus: A Guide to Managing Stress
Stress, are you experiencing heightened stress levels? Your own, and your clients? Is Trumpitis getting to you? I recently polled a cluster of acupuncturists, Asian Bodywork Therapists (ABT) and psychotherapy colleagues on the issue.
Help Save an Important Chiropractic Landmark
The chiropractic profession has a splendid and varied history. Sadly, many landmarks have been lost to bulldozers and wrecking crews, such as the Ryan Building, Little-Bit-O-Heaven, Spears Chiropractic Hospital, and Clearview Sanitarium.
Give Your Patients the Ergonomic Advantage
Prolonged sitting contributes to low back pain and is a health risk. When I discuss my POLITE technique practice recommendations with patients, ergonomics may be last, but not least!
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 previous articles by Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.
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