Get the up to date information on the proper coding, billing and reimbursement for cupping therapy.

Cupping - Coding, Billing and Reimbursement

Disclaimer- The following is a live transcript and is not edited for grammar or spelling. Please watch the video with the subtitles to assure accuracy. 

Hi everyone. This is Sam Collins, your coding and billing expert for acupuncture and the American Acupuncture Council Network. With our other episode on always looking to continue to grow your practice, to give yourself more opportunity, to see people and help people. And as always, I’m going to give you tips on coding and billing and really practice management.

This is a great time to be an acupuncturist, but how do we make sure we’re getting from gaining full advantage to get access to patients and the services we provide? So what I’d like to do with you today is to talk about coding and billing specifically for cupping. This is one that I get this question a lot is that seminar producer, as well as doing our network services, where people call them with questions.

One of the questions I get is, Hey Sam, how do I code for cupping? Can I get paid? What is the proper code? Let’s really get into that. So let’s go to the slides. Let’s take a look. What’s going on with. And how do we do it? What’s the coding and billing. Please note, there is our website. This is the network, not the insurance company, ACM phone network.

Remember we always have updates and news for you there. So what are we looking for? What do we need to do? What is. A cupping as well. Let’s define that cupping as a therapy at ancient form of therapy, where a therapist puts special cups on your skin or a patient skin to create suction.

That suction is to help with circulation, for pain, inflammation, blood flow, and so forth. And of course has become very popular. You’re seeing it all over. Let’s talk about, we know what it’s good for it. How do we use it? But can we get paid for it? Let’s talk about cutting more to define it more clearly.

What I’ve been able to research is that there’s about 10 different types of cupping, and I’m sure some of you might say, oh no, I think there’s five. This is just what I was able to research. And it shows you can have things that they call weaker, like cupping medium or. Moving cupping. I see that commonly needle cupping using moxa or needles with it empty or flash cupping, full bleeding, cupping.

You got to remember that. Is it within your scope for your state, but I’ve seen it used with herbs water and realize the cups can be made of several substances. I generally see some type of glass. I seen some very heavy plastic metals I’ve even heard. I’ve never seen it. I’ve even heard of bamboo.

And that kind of makes sense. What we want to focus on. How do we bill for it? Is there a CPT code that we can use that says it? The first thing we have to remember is whenever you select a code, and this is something that you must always do, you must select a code that accurately describes the service.

Not has to accurately do not be creative. Don’t select a code because it’s like it, like my example, if you were to use. Would you be able to code that as acupuncture? Just because you put seeds on a point, doesn’t make it acupuncture because it’s not needle. So it can’t be it’s gotta be all the way.

So don’t be creative with what you describe, do not select the code that climate is close. Always has to be exact. And within that. If there’s no code for it, there is a code, always. There’s a code called the unlisted code and it can be a modality or a procedure. So whenever you have any service and we’re talking cupping today that doesn’t have a code, that’s going to be the more likely code to use, but let’s take a look at is their way of coding.

It’s I’m going to show you something. I deal with a lot, which is dealing with audits. Many of you are insured with American acupuncture council. And remember if you’re audited who’s there. Remember, if you have American acupuncture council of malpractice, they’re going to help you with audits depending on your policy, anywhere from 30,000 to $50,000 a defense.

And this was one of the cases we had here was an office that had issues with coding. And you’ll take a look. I highlighted in blue. So here it says on 52 claim lines, manual therapy was identified as. In the medical records and reporting of the code 9 71, 4 0 is not appropriate using for the Madame for the modality to indicate as cupping.

So I want to make clear, some people will say Sam, I’m putting the cups on manually and I’m moving them around. So it makes it manual therapy. Nope. That would not make it manual therapy. It’s. And though you’re doing it manually, it doesn’t make it manual therapy. So again, be very careful and you hear a lot of people say, oh, sure.

When I use a cup, Nope, that would not be correct. And I want to make sure you can see this. This is directly from. And again, very clear that it’s not to be used for it. So is there a code for cupping? So if you start thinking of all the codes, infrared heat. Okay. Hot packs, electric stem.

You’ll notice there is no code for cupping. So we want to talk about how to do it. And frankly, let’s be clear. Is it really even a covered service? And I think that’s what I want to focus more on. How do you get. And to get paid for it by insurance. That’s what we have to have a code, but is it a covered service?

Take a look here. This is the VA and I’m sure you’re all familiar with VA claims. The VA is one insurance that will indeed pay for cupping 100%. You’ll notice here and I highlighted it where they indicate the services that can be provided along with your acupuncture. And clearly. Cupping, along with other things, but cupping is there.

So a lot of people look at the codes that are allowed under the VA. And I’ll give you the list here. Here’s the codes that the VA pays for an acupuncturist. Notice it was updated for this year. And you’ll notice that code. I put the blue arrows it’s 9, 7 0 1 6. Now I would say in theory, I think the VA is saying you could use that code.

I don’t think it’s quite correct, but let’s talk about. Should you use it? 9, 7 0 1 6 indicates something that’s called a Vasos nomadic device. And the indication for it is to reduction of a deem after acute injury lymphedema and the use of a pop. So I want to highlight you see this little, long kind of blood pressure cuff goes over the area.

That’s what a visa nomadic devices. It’s a large pressure device that goes over an extremity or part of the body that gets pumped. To prevent a DEMA post-surgical maybe prevent blood clots. It might have vibration to promote circulation and deal with lymphedema. Now I’ve had some people argue that well, could a cup be listed under that?

I would say I can see the argument, but I think this goes against the rule. It has to either fit it or not. I don’t think this would fit it. So I don’t think this is the best choice. And I also don’t think it’s the best choice, because if you use it, I will say the VA will pay it. But the VA Medicare rate is 12 to 1400.

It has a relative value of 0.35, which means it’s about 25% of the value of acupuncture. So again, not a very expensive code, 12 bucks now that’s better than zero, but is that potentially the best code? So remember an application modality, one area Vaser pneumatic says devices that provide external pumping forces to soft tissues to the lower and upper extremities.

And I would say trunk as well. So you would say with cupping, could it fit that definition? I could see you dovetailing it, but I still will stay. It is not the best. Cupping is very popular. You’re seeing it amongst sports and athletes and my goodness, the rock has even had it. And I love what he does because he has moons of followers that if he’s getting cut, the more people are likely to try.

Do I see even the person’s left, had a lot of cups place it’s really popular. It really has efficacy. I’m seeing a lot of additional practitioners from chiropractors to physical therapists that are doing it. So how do we. I mentioned the visa nomadic device. And I said visa, nomadic. I think you can argue it for the VA.

I would never use it outside the VA, but for the VA you could. But I think from a monetary point of view, you’re losing money because it doesn’t pay as well. Using 9 7 0 1 6 will literally get you paid less than 50% of what you would be paid. Otherwise when you use what’s called the unlisted modality code.

Now I want to go back for a second and I’ll go back here and show you. You’ll notice those codes are like, 9 7 0 3 9 and 9 7 1 1 3 9. So you can see they’re all on the list for the VA. In addition tonight 7 0 1 6, but those codes do not have a Medicare value, which means when there’s no value purported by Medicare, they pay at usual and customers.

So what I’m saying to you is simply. If you’re billing, even the VA for cupping, what is the best code to use? It’s going to be the enlist of modality. Whether you want to say it’s unattended or attended. Now here’s the difference. 9 7 0 3 9 says unlisted, modality and modality in this way means something.

You apply to a patient, but you don’t have to be there. Like I know when I’ve had cupping, they placed the. And they leave them there for a bit. I would say that’s an unattended, probably appropriate code, but I’ve also had cupping where the provider is constantly in attendance adjusting and moving them a bit.

That’s going to be more of a procedure or hands-on. So the more hands-on and that you’re spending time with the patient 9 7 1 3 9 would be the better choice if it’s completely unattended 9 7 0 3 9. The difference, just to give an example, if you bill 9 7 0 1 6. They’ll pay a 12 to $14 bill 9 7 1 3 9. I’m going to say payment is going to be between 30 and 45, depending on your area.

So would you rather get paid 10 or 30 or 40? I would opt with the higher one. So how do we code this though, to make sure they know what’s coming says it says unlisted procedure, which means it could be for anything. So you have to indicate cupping on the 15th. Actually, it’s not hard. You’ve all seen a 1500 for here’s an example.

Notice on this line item, it says 9 7 1 3 9. And then in the pink shaded section, right above it, you simply indicate that tells the insurance it’s cupping. Oh, by the way, what if you’re doing moxibustion how would you do that? Actually the same way you would just indicate moxibustion whether it’s fully active.

Or one that it’s unattended. My point here is that coding for cupping, the best code for you would be the unlisted code and indicated this cupping, the VA will cover it. They will pay for cupping. It’s part of the authorization. They will pay it under 9 7, 0 1 6, but at a third of the price. So I think it’s better to use this one.

Now, what about regular? Do regular plans generally cover cupping. The unfortunate answer is no, I’m not finding any type of consistent payment here and there I’ve seen it, but not enough for me to really say yes, it’s covering out. The more likely places to be covered would be personal injury more than likely.

But outside of that, if you go to, gosh, the Cigna, Aetna, the blues general, they’re going to come back and say, it’s experimental investigation, which doesn’t it. From your standpoint, it’s not effective, but you know how insurance companies are without a double-blind study. We’re not going to cover, explain to the patient.

This cupping services is going to be integral to you getting better. We’re going to apply it. This is why, and what we’re doing. And here is the cost. If you show the value and the patient sees the value, they will pay for it and it will be covered. So don’t be afraid to pass it on because if you’re not willing to pass it onto the patient, why bill and insurance, if you’re going to give it away, So I would say, yes, I don’t want to bill for it.

It takes time. It takes effort and it is effective. Quite frankly, I’ve seen some really good responses with muscle injuries that I’ve never seen with other types of modalities. Now we’ll hacky puncture too, but that cupping is really been something I’ve noticed because of the amount of use I’ve seen has really made things work better for patients.

So make it available. Billing wise, what’s the best. Unlisted therapeutic procedure or modality, identify it as cupping and then simply put your price. And when we’re talking just simply price, you’re far better to bill cupping under the unlisted code to the VA. Cause it’s a little bit worth three times the money.

So keep it simple. You know how everybody makes insurance billing hard. You just have to understand the parameters. And that’s what our program with you is to do and realize I do articles and acupuncture today, and this one date back to 2010 and actually talks about it and why I wanted to bring it up today.

That this question though, a lot recently, and it’s because it’s become popular because of the VA. Here’s the thing. You can have me as your. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the network service, because from that I become part of your team where you can call, email me, fax me. However you want to get ahold of me to help you with coding and billing, and frankly get paid my goal to make you better.

I’m your doctor of billing to make your office work better. So go to our side, take a look. I would suggest take a moment to go to our Facebook page AAC. Give us a like there and we always update and put news out. We’re always going to be a resource. The American acupuncture council of course, is your malpractice resource, but will your billing and coding and business to resources as there’s our site, there’s our phone number.

Please reach out to us. Don’t be afraid. My email was at the front end as well. What I’ll say to you all is thank you for the time and next episode, we’re going to have Poney Chiang and again, always go out and be successful. But remember, the success is more about being. Which means being good to your patients, be that person.

And I’ll see you next time. Everyone take care. So what I’d like to do with you today is to talk about coding and billing specifically for cupping. This is one that I get this question a lot is that seminar producer, as well as doing our network services, where people call them with questions.

One of the questions I get is, Hey Sam, how do I code for cupping? Can I get paid? What is the proper code? Let’s really get into that.