resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
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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