The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)® code set is a medical code set maintained by the American Medical Association through the CPT Editorial Panel. The CPT (copyright protected by the AMA) describes medical, surgical, and diagnostic services and is designed to communicate uniform information about medical services and procedures among physicians, coders, patients, accreditation organizations, and payers for administrative, financial, and analytical purposes.
CPT codes are a critical part of the laboratory billing process. They are similar to ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding, except that it identifies the services rendered rather than the diagnosis on the claim. CPT is currently identified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as Level 1 of the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS).
The AMA’s CPT Editorial Panel engages in an ongoing process improvement effort that frequently includes re-examination of the CPT Category I and Category III criteria.
CPT Category I codes are the codes most used in clinical lab and pathology group billing. They are the five-digit numeric codes included in the main body of CPT. These codes represent procedures that are consistent with contemporary medical practice and are widely performed. Codes assigned to this category have met certain criteria including:
- Procedure or service approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Procedure or service commonly performed by health care professionals nationwide
- Procedure or service’s clinical efficacy is proven and documented
The use of the code is mandated by almost all health insurance payment and information systems, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and HIPAA, and the data for the code sets appears in the Federal Register.
After a clinical laboratory service is provided, diagnosis and procedure codes such as CPT codes are assigned to assist the insurance company in determining coverage and medical necessity of the services. Once the procedure and diagnosis codes are determined, the lab bill enters the laboratory collections/revenue cycle management phase.
New CPT Codes Debut for Digital Pathology Services
CEO SUMMARY: New digital pathology CPT codes took effect Jan. 1. Because the new codes are designated as Category III, they are not subject to Medicare and private payer reimbursement yet. Instead, federal health officials will monitor the use of the new codes in 2023 to determine h…
Eight Macro Trends for Clinical Labs in 2023
CEO SUMMARY: Laboratory administrators and pathologists will want to carefully study eight important trends that will guide their business strategies in 2023. Many of these macro trends center on financial and operational difficulties and ways to steer around these obstacles. Anothe…
Coverage, Reimbursement Still Difficult for New Lab Tests
CEO SUMMARY: Bringing a new proprietary diagnostic test to market is an arduous process. It takes patience and planning to complete the journey from test development to payer reimbursement. This slow process stems from the fact that the healthcare reimbursement system is fragmented,…
One Genetic Test CPT Code Earns ‘Fraudomatic’ Title
CEO SUMMARY: Several genetic testing companies have noticed that some of the nation’s Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) pay about $2,000 for test claims billed with CPT code 81408. From 2018 through and 2019, the number of 81408 claims rose dramatically at just two of thes…
Lawsuits Alleging Overcharges to Proceed in Two Courts in 2020
CEO SUMMARY: Two lawsuits filed in federal courts against Laboratory Corporation of America and Quest Diagnostics may have consequences for the entire lab industry. The plaintiffs are patients who allege that the two defendant lab companies charged them as much as 10 times more than what …
2019’s Top 10 Lab Stories Reveal Major Laboratory Industry Trends
This is an excerpt of a 3,163-word article in the Dec. 16, 2019 issue of THE DARK REPORT (TDR). The full article is available to members of The Dark Intelligence Group. CEO SUMMARY: There was plenty of bad news in 2019 for clinical labs and pathology groups. Yet lurking inside this new…
ASCP, CAP Ask Anthem to Roll Back Price Cuts
CEO SUMMARY: One association representing pathologists says new payment rates that Anthem, Inc., is introducing in 14 states do not cover the costs of performing anatomic pathology and clinical lab testing for the tests in question. Another association says the steep payment cuts threaten…
Anthem’s Cuts in AP Fees Could Put Patients at Risk
CEO SUMMARY: Consultants who work with anatomic pathologists have several theories about why Anthem is enacting deep cuts of 50% to 70% for the professional component of many anatomic pathology services. While they have different ideas about what motivates the nation’s second largest he…
Dermatologists Say Anthem Cuts Affect Patient Care
CEO SUMMARY: Deep cuts in what Anthem pays pathologists for the professional component for certain AP services are having a harmful effect on the long-standing relationships that dermatologists have with dermatopathologists, some physicians say. By disrupting these relationships, Anthem i…
Anthem Rolling Out More Anatomic Path Price Cuts
CEO SUMMARY: Anthem is making big changes to its relationships with anatomic pathology groups. Getting most of the attention at the moment are the insurer’s letters announcing price cuts for anatomic pathology services of 50% to 70% of Medicare fees. But another major change may also tr…
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