resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
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.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.