Tag Archives | Morbid Obesity

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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High BMI: To Use Or Not to Use Modifier 22

The new fifth-digit diagnosis codes for body mass index (BMI) can help you better document a patient’s condition, especially when the patient’s BMI might contribute to more complex risk factors for the anesthesiologist to handle. Having documentation of a high BMI doesn’t automatically lead to more pay, however. Watch two areas before assuming you can automatically append modifier 22 (Increased procedural services) because of BMI and potentially score a 20-30 percent higher pay for the procedure.

Not All Morbid Obesity Means Modifier 22

A patient is considered to be morbidly obese when his or her BMI is 40 or more. New BMI codes for 2011 include:

  • V85.41 — Body Mass Index 40.0-44.9, adult
  • V85.42 — Body Mass Index 45.0-49.9, adult
  • V85.43 — Body Mass Index 50.0-59.9, adult
  • V85.44 — Body Mass Index 60.0-69.9, adult
  • V85.45 — Body Mass Index 70 and over, adult.

While morbid obesity can be an appropriate reason to report modifier 22, don’t assume you should always append the modifier just because the patient is morbidly obese.

Example 1: During surgical procedures that are performed because of morbid obesity (such as bariatric surgery), the patient must meet the morbidly obese criteria too support medical necessity for the procedure. In those type instances, simply having a patient who is morbidly obese doesn’t support using modifier 22. Remember, if you report a physical status modifier for a patient who is morbidly obese, it is not appropriate to also include modifier 22. Keep in mind that Medicare does not pay for physical status, qualifying circumstances, or extra work modifiers.

The anesthesia provider’s documentation should direct you to the correct BMI code as well as support when you can append modifier 22.

Example 2: The patient’s obesity might contribute to breathing problems that lead to lower oxygen and…

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E/M Challenge: Can I Report 99214 and +99354?

Counseling representing more than 50 percent of E/M visit? Choose level based on time.
Question: I have a family physician who documented 60 minutes on an established patient’s office visit. The FP diagnosed the patient with morbid obesity (278.01). Since the patient was newly diagnosed and had some difficulty understanding the doctor’s orders, the FP spent […]

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