Are you a healthcare provider trying to navigate the complex world of behavioral health billing? Do you spend more time with the tiresome billing process and the missed revenue opportunities in the behavioral health industry? Submitting claims for essential services such as counseling, psychotherapy, and psychiatric care can take much effort. But fear not. Despite the numerous regulations and rules, successfully billing for these services can be challenging yet rewarding. Continue reading to explore behavioral health coding and billing practices. This blog will provide you with insights into the billing process and enable you to optimize revenue generation.
Steps Involved in Behavioral Health Coding and Billing
The steps involved in coding and billing behavioral health services are described below.
- Patient Eligibility Verification
The first step in behavioral health billing is to verify that the patient is eligible for insurance benefits. This can be done by contacting the patient’s insurance company and providing them with their demographic information and policy number. It is important to note that not all insurance plans cover behavioral health billing services. Some plans may only cover certain types of services, such as psychotherapy or counseling. Others may have limits on the number of sessions that are covered. It is also important to note that some insurance plans require prior authorization for behavioral health services. Prior authorization is a process in which the provider must obtain approval from the payer before providing the service. You must obtain prior authorization to ensure your claim is accepted.
Once the patient’s eligibility has been verified, the next step in behavioral health billing is to code the provided services. This involves assigning CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes to each service. CPT codes are specific to each type of behavioral health service, and payers use them to determine how much reimbursement to provide.
Here are some of the most common CPT codes for behavioral health services:
|CPT Code||Treatment/Therapy||Time Duration|
|90801||Initial psychotherapy session||45-59 minutes|
|90802||Subsequent psychotherapy session||45-59 minutes|
|90804||Crisis intervention session||30-60 minutes|
|90805||Family psychotherapy session||45-59 minutes|
|90807||Psychiatric diagnostic evaluation||30-59 minutes|
|99214||Office or other outpatient visits for the evaluation and management of an established patient, which requires a medically appropriate history and/or examination and moderate decision-making||Time Duration may vary|
- Claims Submission
Once the behavioral health coding is complete, the next step is to submit claims to the patient’s insurance company. It can be done electronically or on paper. If submitting claims electronically, the provider will need to use a clearinghouse. A clearinghouse is a third-party company that helps providers to submit claims to payers. Clearinghouses can help to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the claims submission process. If submitting claims on paper, the provider must complete a CMS-1500 form. The CMS-1500 form is a standard claim form that all payers use.
- Denials and Rejections
Unfortunately, it is common for behavioral health claims to be denied or rejected by payers. This can happen for various reasons, such as :
- Incorrect behavioral health coding: If the services are not coded correctly, the claim goes into the denial phase.
- Incomplete documentation: The claim may go into denial if the provider’s documentation is incomplete.
- Lack of prior authorization: The claim reimbursement would be easier if prior authorization were obtained.
- Medical Necessity: The claim may go into denial if the payer does not believe the services were medically necessary.
If a claim is denied or rejected, the provider must work with the payer to resolve the issue. It may involve providing additional documentation or submitting a corrected claim.
The provider will receive service reimbursement once the payer has processed a behavioral health claim. The reimbursement amount will vary depending on the payer’s contract with the provider. Most payers reimburse providers based on a fee schedule. A fee schedule lists the maximum amount the payer will reimburse for each type of service. Some payers reimburse providers based on a percentage of the provider’s usual and customary charges. The usual and customary charge is the amount the provider typically charges for a particular service.
Improving Behavioral Health Billing Accuracy and Efficiency
Here are some tips for improving the accuracy and efficiency of your behavioral health billing:
Implement a billing software solution
A behavioral health billing software solution can help you automate many tasks involved in behavioral health billing, such as coding, claims submission, and denial management.
Use a clearing house
A clearinghouse is a third-party company that helps providers submit claims to payers. Clearinghouses can help to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the claims submission process.
Stay up-to-date on coding and billing regulations
Behavioral health billing regulations are constantly changing. It is essential to stay up-to-date on these changes to ensure that your claims are being submitted correctly.
Hire a behavioral health coding expert
If you are not comfortable coding your own claims, you can hire a coding expert to do it for you. Coding experts are familiar with the latest coding and billing regulations and can help you ensure that your claims are being coded correctly.
Get prior authorization
If prior authorization is required for a particular service, obtain it before providing it. This will help to prevent your claims from being denied.
Submit claims electronically
Submitting claims electronically is more efficient than submitting claims on paper. Clearinghouses can help you to submit claims electronically.
Track your claims
Tracking your claims to identify any denials or rejections early on is essential. This will give you time to work with the payer to resolve the issue.
Behavioral Health Billing for Specific Services
In addition to the general tips above, there are some specific tips for billing for specific behavioral health services.
When billing for psychotherapy services, using the correct CPT codes is essential. The CPT codes for psychotherapy services depend on the length of the session and the type of psychotherapy.
For example, an initial psychotherapy session lasting 45-59 minutes would be coded as CPT code 90801. For a subsequent psychotherapy session lasting 45-59 minutes, behavioral health coding will be
It is also important to provide clear and concise documentation for psychotherapy services. The documentation should include:
- The patient’s presenting problem
- The treatment goals
- The interventions that are in use
- The patient’s progress.
When it comes to behavioral health billing for psychiatric care services, using the correct CPT codes is essential. The CPT codes for psychiatric care services are based on the service type, such as a psychiatric diagnostic evaluation or a medication management visit.
For example, in a psychiatric diagnostic evaluation lasting 30-59 minutes, the behavioral health coding is CPT code 90807. A medication management visit lasting 30-59 minutes would be coded as CPT code 99214.
Providing clear and concise documentation for psychiatric care services is also essential. Documentation should include:
- The patient’s mental health diagnosis
- The treatment plan
- The prescribed medications.
- The patient’s response to treatment.
Behavioral health billing can be complex, but it is essential to get it right. By following the tips above, you can improve the accuracy and efficiency of your behavioral health billing and ensure that you receive the full reimbursement you are entitled to.