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Overcome 3 Myths and Claim Reimbursement Opportunities using Modifier 22

Don’t fall for these common body habitus, time, and fee traps.

If you overuse Modifièr 22 (Increased procedural services), you may face increased scrutiny from your payers or even the Office of Inspector General (OIG). But if you avoid the modifièr entirely, you’re likely missing out on reimbursement your cardiologist deserves.

How it works: When a procedure requires significant additional time or effort that falls outside the normal effort of services described by a particular CPT® codè — and no other CPT® codè better describes the work involved in the procedure — you should look to modifièr 22. Modifièr 22 represents those extenuating circumstances that do not merit the use of an additional or alternative CPT® codè but do land outside the norm and may support added reimbursement for a given procedure.  Take a look at these three myths — and the realities — to ensure you don’t fall victim to these modifièr 22 trouble spots.

Myth 1: Morbid Obesity Means Automatic 22

Sometimes, an interventional cardiologist may need to spend more time than usual positioning a morbidly obese patient for a procedure and accèssing the vessels involved in that procedure. In that case, it may be appropriate to append modifièr 22 to the relevant surgical codè. However, it’s not appropriate to assume that just because the patient is morbidly obese you can always append modifièr 22.  “Modifièr 22 is about extra procedural work and, although morbid obesity might lead to extra work, it is not enough in itself,” says Marcella Bucknam, CPC, CCS-P, CPC-H, CCS, CPC-P, COBGC, CCC, Manager of Compliance education for the University of Washington Physiciáns Compliance Program in Seattle.

“Unless time is significant or the intensity of the procedure is increased due to the obesity, then modifièr 22 should not be appended,” warns Maggie Mac, CPC,

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A-Scans: Report Denial Proof 76511 Claim With Accurate Bilateral, Modifier Reporting

One of the most common procedures in ophthalmology is A-scan ultrasound biometry, which is associated with some of the most uncommon coding problems.

According to CPT, A-scans — 76511, 76516, and 76519 — are the shortened names for amplitude modulation scans, “one-dimensional ultrasonic measurement procedures,” notes Maggie M. Mac, CPC, CEMC, CHC, CMM, ICCE, Director, Best Practices-Network Operations at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Ophthalmologists use 76511 (Ophthalmic ultrasound, diagnostic; quantitative A-scan only) to diagnose eye-related complications such as eye tumors, hemorrhages, retinal detachment, etc.

Physicians use 76516 (Ophthalmic biometry by ultrasound echography, A-scan) to measure the axial length of the eye in preparation for cataract surgery.

And 76519 (Ophthalmic biometry by ultrasound echography, A-scan; with intraocular lens power calculation) allows ophthalmologists to determine the intraocular lens calculation prior to cataract surgery only.

Typically, most A-scans are performed bilaterally. However, circumstances may only require the physician to perform a unilateral scan.

Each A-scan code has separate requirements when billed bilaterally. For example, payers consider 76511 unilateral, requiring the use of modifiers LT/RT/50 (Left side/Right side/Bilateral procedure) or the units value of “2.”

But 76516 is inherently bilateral, so you shouldn’t append modifier 50 to it.

For CPT Code 76519, some payers (including Medicare) consider only the technical component bilateral whereas the professional component is unilateral.

Some non-Medicare payers, on the other hand, want you to bill globally and don’t typically divide the professional and technical components, so you must determine which insurance company you are coding for and what its policy is for billing A-scans.

Medicare carriers for Part B services have published articles specifying their preference to report a bilateral service with a single line item with modifier 50 and one unit of service, whereas [some] non-Medicare payers prefer reporting bilateral services with two line items…

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Pre-Cataract Surgery Coding Myths You Should Bust

Improperly coding IOL Masters or A-scans can cost your practice $30 per patient.

Calculating intraocular lens power for patients facing cataract surgery has gotten more precise as A-scan and IOL Master technology has advanced. But to make sure your practice is getting fairly reimbursed each time, you need to understand the bilateral rules for 76519 and 92136.

Could one of these myths be damaging your claims?

Include Bilateral and Unilateral Components in Global Code

Myth: If the ophthalmologist calculates IOL power in both eyes, you should report 76519 (Ophthalmic biometry by ultrasound echography, A-scan; with intraocular lens power calculation) or 92136 (Ophthalmic biometry by partial coherence interferometry with intraocular lens power calculation) twice (e.g., 76519-RT and 76519-LT, or 76519-50).

Reality: You should not report 76519 or 92136 with modifier 50 even if the ophthalmologist calculated the IOL power of both eyes, warns Maggie M. Mac, CPC, CEMC, CHC, CMM, ICCE, Director, Best Practices-Network Operations at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. To understand why, it’s helpful to know how Medicare’s Physician Fee Schedule values the procedures.

As it does with many other diagnostic tests, CMS divides the A-scan (76519) and the IOL Master (92136) into two components. The technical component (the actual performing of the test) is denoted with modifier TC, and the professional component (viewing and interpreting the results) is denoted with modifier 26.

For most procedures, the technical and professional components have the same bilateral status – for example, 92250-TC and 92250-26 (Fundus photography with interpretation and report) are both considered inherently bilateral, denoted with modifier indicator “2” on the fee schedule. The reimbursement for all components of 92250 is based on both eyes being tested.

Exception: For both 76519 and 92136, the technical component has a different bilateral status from the professional component. You can find…

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