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What are Reimbursement Codes?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2016
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Medical reimbursement codes are standardized numeric labels for medical services, products, and procedures that help to provide details for medical billing. These are called reimbursement codes because the coding makes a difference in how third parties, i.e. insurance companies, will reimburse hospitals and other medical care providers for procedures and medical care. Different kinds of reimbursement codes and labels help to document various kinds of health care treatment.

One kind of medical reimbursement is Medicare reimbursement, where the government actually compensates medical providers. Medicare billing features specific Medicare reimbursement rates, which are agreed costs that the government will pay for a treatment or procedure. Medicare drug reimbursement covers the costs of medications for individuals involved in this government program. Medicare reimbursement rates are often the subject of discussion at a national policy level, since they influence how government assisted citizens get access to care on the private market.

Different kinds of reimbursement codes include ICD9 codes and CPT, or HCPCS, codes. ICD9 codes represent an international standard for describing a diagnosis. These codes help to document a patient condition that requires specific treatments. As “diagnostic reimbursement codes,” the ICD9 can make a big difference in how medical care gets billed. CPT, or HCPCS, codes are reimbursement codes for specific procedures or treatments. A CPT code describes a particular medical service. These detailed codes provide for billing details to cover the costs of the individual services from the facility or provider.

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There are also different kinds of reimbursement code labels according to types of medical services. For example, a “C code” generally represents a temporary outpatient code, where a J code might represent drug treatments, or an A code might represent some miscellaneous medical expense. Different reimbursement code categories cover the range of inpatient and outpatient procedures and treatments that a medical provider might facilitate on a regular basis.

For those who provide medical services, knowing about the use of reimbursement codes is extremely important. These kinds of codes have become part of the common language used to discuss actual provided health care services, and good record keeping includes attaching one or more of these codes to every medical office visit. This kind of information also falls within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which means there are laws about keeping these codes private. Medical office leaders need to know how to generate and safeguard reimbursement codes for successful operation and patient care.

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