Successfully Report Preventive Medicine Services
Here are three tips to help you report preventive medicine services successfully.
Tip 1: Diagnosis Must Reflect the Reason for Visit
Always match preventive medicine codes with an appropriate diagnosis. A preventive medicine service is not a problem-oriented visit, and shouldn’t be coded as one. Instead, use an ICD-9 code that supports the services provided: V70.0 Routine general medical examination at a health care facility for adults, V72.31 Routine gynecological examination for gynecologic exams, and V20.2 Routine infant or child health check for well-child care. Additional special screening codes (V73.0-V82.9) may be used, as appropriate.
Tip 2: Coding Must Reflect Patient Status
CPT® includes preventive medicine codes for new (99381-99387) and established (99391-99395). Per the “three-year rule,” if the patient has not seen the provider (or a provider of the same specialty in the billing group) within the past three years, the patient is new. All other patients are established.
CPT® further defines the preventive medicine codes by patient age:
- Younger than one year — 99381 (new) and 99391 (established)
- One through four years — 99382 (new) and 99392 (established)
- Five through 11 years — 99383 (new) and 99393 (established)
- 12 through 17 years — 99384 (new) and 99394 (established)
- 18 through 39 years — 99385 (new) and 99395 (established)
- 40 through 64 years — 99386 (new) and 99396 (established)
- 65 years and older — 99387 (new) and 99397 (established)
Tip 3: Not all Preventive Services Are the Same
Preventive medicine services always include a comprehensive history and examination, and age-appropriate anticipatory guidance. The comprehensive examination reflects the type of assessment required, as determined by the patient’s age and sex
For example, the exam for a two-year-old child and a 25-year-old woman will (not surprisingly) differ. Services for a young child will assess physical growth (height, weight, head circumference), and milestones of development such as speech, crawling, and sleeping habits.
Preventive services for an adolescent may include a scoliosis screen, assessment of growth and development, and a review of immunizations. Anticipatory guidance may focus on health habits and self-care, perhaps including a discussion of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and sexual activity.
A comprehensive preventive visit for an adult female patient will include a gynecologic examination, Pap smear, and breast exam. An adult male’s exam would include an examination of the scrotum, testes, penis, and the prostate (for older patients). Anticipatory guidance may focus on issues of health maintenance: alcohol and tobacco use, safe sex practices, nutrition, and exercise. As patient age advances, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing come into play.
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