Doctors face deadline for adopting more precise medical coding system for billing

If things are a bit tense in your doctor’s office come Oct. 1, some behind-the-scenes red tape could be to blame.

That’s the day when the nation’s physicians and hospitals must start using a massive new coding system to describe your visit on insurance claims so they get paid.

Today, U.S. health providers use a system of roughly 14,000 codes to designate a diagnosis — for reimbursement purposes and in medical databases.

The updated system has about 68,000 codes, essentially an expanded dictionary to capture more of the details from a patient’s chart.

The government says the long-awaited change should help health officials better track quality of care, spot early warning signs of a brewing outbreak or look for illness or injury trends.



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