In my previous posts, I talked about “What Are CPT Codes and Why Are They Important” and “How to Look Up CPT Codes for FREE — 7 Steps!” with the available online resources. Today, we’ll look at what’s considered to be the third major code set: the HCPCS codes.
HCPCS (often pronounced “hicks-picks”) stands for Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System. It was established in 1978 as a way to standardize identification of medical services, supplies and equipment. According to MB&C, this code set is based upon CPT. In fact, the first level of HCPCS is identical to CPT. That might sound a little confusing, so let’s take a step back
What Are HCPCS Codes Used For?
HCPCS was developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) for the same reasons that the AMA developed CPT: for reporting medical procedures and services. Up until 1996, using HCPCS was optional. In that year, however, the government passed the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.
Coders today use HCPCS codes to represent medical procedures to Medicare, Medicaid, and several other third-party payers. The code set is divided into three levels. Level one is identical to CPT, though technically those codes, when used to bill Medicare or Medicaid, are HCPCS codes. CMS looked at the established CPT codes and decided that they didn’t need to improve upon or vary those codes, so instead they folded all of CPT into HCPCS. Source: http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/hcpcs-codes/
CPT vs. HCPCS Codes Medical Coding — Video
CPT Codes vs. HCPCS Codes
There are two sets of codes. The first, or Level I, code set is a five-digit numeric code that contains the Physicians= Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) maintained by the American Medical Association. The CPT is comprised of descriptive terms and identifying codes used primarily for billing for services provided by physicians and other healthcare professionals.
The second code set, or Level II, is a code set for medical services not included in Level I, such as durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies. These codes are alpha-numeric in that they begin with a single letter, such as an AE or AK in the case of durable medical equipment, followed by four numbers. Source: http://www.easystand.com/documents/2012/12/faqs-about-hcpc-codes.pdf
Where the real difference between CPT and HCPCS comes in is in Level II of HCPCS and the HCPCS modifiers.
Where You Find HCPCS Codes & How To Use Them
Patients can find HCPCS / CPT Codes in a number of places. As you leave the doctor’s office, you are handed a review of your appointment which may have a long list of possible services your doctor provided, with some of them circled.
The associated numbers, usually five digits, are the codes.
If your appointment requires follow up billing by your doctor for copays or co-insurance, then the codes may be on those bills.
A wise patient and smart healthcare consumer will use these codes to review medical billings from practitioners, testing centers, hospitals or other facilities. It’s a good way to be sure your insurance (and your co-pays and co-insurances) are paying only for those services you received.
If you receive statements from either the doctor or your health insurance and the HCPCS / CPT codes do not appear, then contact the party who sent them and request a new statement that does include the codes.
Like CPT, HCPCS alerts you to which codes are new and which codes have been revised. New codes are listed with a circle, while revised codes have a triangle next to them. HCPCS is constantly being updated, and CMS, which maintains the code set, will often recycle codes. HCPCS features a number of strikethrough codes, and these let you know that a code that used to be listed there has been deleted and moved elsewhere. Source: http://patients.about.com/od/costsconsumerism/a/hcpcscodes.htm
Check out HCPCS 2016 Level II Professional Edition as a resource you might be looking for.