Use Sick-Visit Codes to Bill and Get Paid for Preoperative Physicals
Preoperative physicals are problematic for pediatricians. This is because children have regular well-visits anyway, something that managed care organizations usually require. But these same managed care organizations refuse to pay for more than a certain number of physicals, one every year or every two years, for example. Accordingly, how can you bill for an additional well-visit for a pre-op physical, using correct coding and still get paid? The best way, if you are concerned about reimbursement, may well be to use a sick-visit code, according to two office managers we discussed the problem with.
Also getting paid is the point, says Patricia Vogel, office manager for Adirondack Pediatrics, a five-pediatrician, two-nurse practitioner practice in Glens Falls, NY. The question is key, because the fact is that insurance companies make it very difficult to get paid for these visits. Any way they can get out of paying, they will,she adds, with a good-natured laugh. But, we are using the regular sick-visit codes and not having a problem.
If the surgery is going to be for ear tubes, one of the most common reasons for pre-op physicals, the code would probably be a 99213, says Vogel. If, however, its for something like open-heart surgery, the pre-op physical would be coded a 99214.
Vogel uses the preoperative respiratory examination diagnosis code: V72.82
Ann Corlew, office manager for Pediatric
Care, Inc., a solo practice in Hendersonville, TN, takes a similar approach. We cant use preventive services if the patient has already had the yearly physical, she says. But, if the child has had a physical within the last six months, the pediatrician will do a review of systems, just as she would for a complete physical. However, she wont do all of the other procedures that are part of a physical, such as hearing and vision tests, says Corlew. She checks the heart, lungs, and abdomen, the office manager notes.
Like Vogel, Corlew uses a regular sick-visit code for these physicalsusually, 99212, 99213, or 99214. The pre-op physicals rarely take as long as regular physicals, she
Virtually every pre-op physical done at Pediatric Care since Corlew became office manager four years ago has been for dental procedures. A lot of pediatric patients need to be anesthetized before dental procedures, notes Corlew. So, they need pre-op physicals. Surgeons themselves do their own pre-op physicals, or have them done at the hospital, says Corlew. But we do a lot of pre-dental physicals.
Corlew doesnt use the clearance diagnosis codes for these physicals. Instead, she uses the diagnosis code for the condition that coincides with the procedure that is being donedental caries (521.0), [...]
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