Category Archives: Medicare

Ask the Expert: Medicare

Question: Do Chiropractors Have to Bill Medicare?

Answer: According to the Medicare billing guide (sections 40 thru 40.4); the answer is a resounding Yes. Medicare requires all physicians who have not opted out of Medicare must bill for covered services provided to a Medicare patient, on the behalf of the patient. Even a non par provider not accepting assignment must submit the claim to Medicare on behalf of the patient. It also says that Chiropractors are not qualified as physicians who can opt out of Medicare. So, yes, you have to bill for covered services.

Now let's define covered services. Covered services are defined as those services listed in your Medicare LCD, or Medicare Chiropractic Billing Guide, as being covered by Medicare and are medically necessary. For chiropractic this is 98940, 98941 and 98942, for the time being. Therefore spinal manipulation must be billed to Medicare by the doctor of chiropractic. Any codes other than the three spinal manipulation codes are excluded from being covered when provided by a chiropractor, i.e. exams, x-rays, extraspinal adjustments etc. and are not required to be billed to Medicare unless there is a secondary payer to Medicare who will cover those services.

Denial of E&M Code with Chiropractic Manipulation

Examination denials

I had a denial for the examination (99203) of brand new patient. On the EOB it stated that “the service billed is included in another procedure billed the same day.” I do not understand this denial as I am required to do an exam to determine the condition of my patient and formulate a treatment plan. I did perform an chiropractic treatment in the same visit, but that code was for my specific manipulation service. Are they right, do I not get paid for an exam when I bill it with treatment? If not, what did I do wrong and how can I get my examination paid?

You are correct in that you must perform an examination to determine the patient’s condition and course of care plan. But a common error when billing for an examination the same day as treatment is to not include the modifier -25 on the exam code (in this case 99203-25). This modifier is certification that a significant, separately identifiable evaluation and management service (examination) was performed the same day.

The reason this modifier must be applied is that all chiropractic manipulation codes have an included component that is a pre-service, intra-service and post-service, assessment. This assessment is for the typical short history and evaluation done on each visit, prior to and after the day’s treatment. This assessment is not intended as the more extensive evaluation done on the first visit and re-examinations. It is for this reason that an examination (evaluation and management code) is not to be billed on every visit.

To correct this claim you must resubmit the billing with the proper modifier (25) so it will be separately reimbursed. Including a copy of the examination with the re-billing is also useful, as will avoid further delays should the insurance want to view the record of the separate examination.