Understanding Anesthesia Billing
Because anesthesia is rarely a standalone service but is billed separately, performing accurate, compliant anesthesia billing and coding is quite difficult. Keep reading to learn about how accurate billing ensures maximum claim reimbursement.
The Complexity of Billing for Anesthesia Services
Anesthesia billing is often more complicated than other healthcare specialties. CPT codes for anesthesia services can vary depending on the insurance carrier—Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers may each have unique codes for anesthesia services. CPT codes are also regularly updated, requiring providers to stay on top of continually changing practices.
These issues can make it difficult for healthcare providers to document their anesthesia services properly. Inaccurate billing and coding can result in claims denials, delays, lost revenue, and even legal issues.
For these reasons, healthcare providers must understand how to bill for their anesthesia services properly. Let’s take a look at how that works.
How To Calculate Anesthesia Units Billing
Billing for anesthesia services is calculated using a rather simple formula:
(Base Units + Time Units + Modifying Units) * Conversion Factor
Every procedure has a code with an assigned base unit value. More straightforward procedures have a lower base unit value, and complex procedures have a higher base unit value.
While time units are typically divided into 15-minute intervals, they are a little more complicated than that. Billable anesthesia time begins when the practitioner begins preparing the patient for an anesthesia procedure. Pre-anesthesia sedation and IV insertion are two processes that can trigger the anesthesia billing start time. The billing time for anesthesia ends when the patient is admitted to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) and transferred to another professional.
In addition, practitioners must diligently document discontinuous time to provide accurate billing for anesthesia services. For example, the time between IV placement and surgery is considered a discontinuous time and must be documented. This time is not billed.
Here are some other critical considerations for anesthesia time:
- Use the exact time. Rounding produces a margin of error that can affect the accuracy of your anesthesia billing.
- Use a consistent time interval for all of your anesthesia time. Using different intervals for separate cases complicates the billing calculation and makes it easier to make mistakes.
- The end time for one case and the start time for another case must be at least one minute apart.
Modifying units prevent duplicate billings and unbundling of CPT codes. These units indicate whether a patient has a chronic or systemic condition, and they vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Anesthesia Conversion Factors
The anesthesia billing conversion factor depends on the anesthesia provider’s location. This metric assigns a cost to each unit and allows you to perform accurate, up-to-date anesthesia billing calculations.
Accurate anesthesia billing and coding is essential for efficient revenue cycle management (RCM). Check out our blog to learn more about improving your RCM and maximizing your reimbursements from anesthesia services.
Pre- and Post-Operative Reviews
There are two more components necessary for determining anesthesia billing. Before a procedure, healthcare providers must review patient history to determine the proper dosage to be administered in the operating room or surgery center. After the procedure is complete, providers must show that the patient has not suffered complications due to the type of anesthesia care provided. The pre- and post-op reviews must be included in the documentation to ensure that anesthesia billing is accurate
Ensuring Anesthesia Billing Compliance With Outsourced Billing and Coding
To complete anesthesia billing without complications, you must ensure accurate anesthesia coding. However, as mentioned earlier, proper anesthesia coding is made difficult because CPT codes vary between insurance carriers, and they receive regular updates. For this reason, many healthcare providers partner with a medical billing and coding specialist to ensure they always perform accurate, compliant anesthesia billing and coding.
Thousands of CPT Codes Require Industry Expertise
One of the reasons that anesthesia billing is such a difficult, complicated process is that, on top of carrier variances and regular updates, there are thousands upon thousands of CPT codes related to anesthesia services. When you partner with a reputable medical billing and coding provider, you gain access to industry expertise that allows you to quickly parse through the many anesthesia-related CPT codes and use the correct ones in your documentation.
The Benefits of Partnering With an Anesthesia Billing Provider
Partnering with an anesthesia billing and coding provider does more than help you sift through the thousands of CPT codes related to anesthesia services. Here are some of the other ways their services positively impact your healthcare organization:
- Increased attention to detail: Anesthesia biller providers leverage their industry expertise to prevent inaccurate and non-compliant billing and coding for anesthesia services.
- Maximized Reimbursements: Proper billing and coding reduce claims denials, delays, and partial reimbursements.
- Cost savings: Outsourcing your anesthesia billing helps lower overall operational costs.
- Reliability: Certified billing and coding specialists ensure that your anesthesia documentation is as accurate as possible.
- More time for patient care: With less stress placed on anesthesia billing, you can spend more time providing high-quality patient care.