Code modifiers provide additional information about an HCPCS or CPT code, such as whether the procedure was more complicated than typical or performed in an unusual setting. All medical coding is based on the same idea: a standardized depiction of medical diagnoses (ICD-10 codes) and procedures performed (CPT and HCPCS codes), resulting in a medical visit record for billing reasons.
Codes are strictly determined by the documentation contained in the medical record. According to an old medical billing proverb, “If it is not documented, it is not done.” As a result, while coding, the only codes presented in a claim must be those that show proof of utilization in the medical record. It is never permissible to infer or imply that a procedure or diagnosis has been performed. Not only this, but there is a direct relationship between the CPT code modifiers and the enhancement of reimbursement and coding accuracy.
Let‘s unveil such power of the CPT code modifiers:
Correctly using modifiers can have a significant impact on reimbursement. When evaluating payer fee schedules, ensure that modifiers like 22 have a common reimbursement methodology. For example, if moutilized2 is utilized, the provider will receive 110% of the usual CPT cost.
Many payor fee schedules will reflect the decrease in payment for modifiers such as 26, which denotes the professional component of a process because the same provider group does not conduct the technical component. The provider group that executes the technical component will be paid for the technical part of the procedure.
The reimbursement methodology for utilizing modifier 50, like the one for modifier 22, should be defined in your payer contract. Because the modifier indicates that the identical process was performed twice, most contracts payout 150% of the price schedule.
When applying the 51 modifiers, listing CPTs in the order of reimbursement value is critical. Unless the CPTs are excluded from multiple procedure logic, reimbursement is paid at 100% permitted for the first procedure and then lowered by 50% for each consecutive procedure.
Problems Caused by Incorrect Coding
When a code is recorded for a greater level of service or procedure than what is documented in the patient’s documentation, this is known as up-coding. Up-coding is a severe violation. Hence correct and compliant coding is required.
Down-coding occurs when the code attributed is at a lesser level of complexity or cost than what is documented. Down-coding is frequently done unintentionally, and clinicians and coders must be informed of the costs the practice may incur due to down-coding.
Tips to Improve Coding Quality
Keeping Up with CPT Code Modifiers
Along with education, providers must be assured that coders are updated on guideline revisions released multiple times a year. Claims are frequently denied due to errors such as erroneous code assignment, sequencing, or modifier use. Without confidence that coders are up to date on medical coding practices, providers risk receiving inaccurate reimbursements due to denied claims and potential compliance difficulties.
Proper Detailed Documentation
The documentation in the medical record serves as the primary means of communication between the practitioner and the coder. With this documentation, coders are able to assign appropriate codes that represent the therapy and care provided. To ensure proper medical coding services, providers must ensure that physicians give complete documentation for each patient. Medical coders can submit the correct codes for accurate compensation if they have the required evidence.
Another approach to this problem is to enable physicians and coders to speak with one another. As a result, coders can contact physicians for any clarification information needed to give appropriate coding.
Ensure Accurate Medical Coding with Professional Support
The AMA issues CPT coding rules on certain procedures and services every year. Modifiers must be used correctly for accurate coding, as several modifiers affect the provider’s reimbursement. In fact, claim denials can come from not utilizing a modifier or applying the incorrect modifier, leading to rework, payment delays, and eventual reimbursement loss. Not only this, but incorrect use of a modifier can potentially result in exceeding the amount payable for a service performed or receiving payment when payment is not due, both of which can result in severe fines and penalties if not reported by the practitioner.
Obtaining professional assistance can help ensure that the medical coding cycle works appropriately. Top medical coding companies such as 24/7 Medical Billing Services hires experienced coders who are well-versed in CPT codes and modifiers and can assist physicians in accurately reporting their services. They will ensure that modifier codes are only reported when applicable and supported by specific documentation in the patient’s medical record.