Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 15 No. 5 • September 2012

Incredibly Complex New Code for Medical Billing:
Sounds Like a Joke, But Prison Isn’t Funny

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com, 13 Sept. 2011

In their ever expanding search for ways to justify their jobs, federal bureaucrats have now developed a new federally mandated version that, starting in about a year, will increase the number of codes to specify medical services from about 18,000 to around 140,000. Just what your local physician needed!

Remarkably funny items are included in the new codes, such as whether a patient’s injury occurred in a chicken coop, opera house, art gallery, squash court, and nine locations in and around a mobile home, from the bathroom to the bedroom. A code specifies that a doctor visit took place because of walking into a lamppost on an initial encounter or took place because of walking into a lamppost on a subsequent encounter. Another code identifies injuries related to macaws(!) Yet another specifies injuries involving a “burn due to water-skis on fire” (!!) Then there are the insults, such as a code for having a very low level of personal hygiene or having a bizarre appearance. There are codes to identify injuries received while sewing, ironing, playing a brass instrument, crocheting, doing handcrafts, or knitting, but not while shopping.

This sounds to us like somebody’s idea of having a lot of fun at the expense of you and me and healthcare providers. Yes, it’s funny except for the fact that real people trying to provide medical services (such as doctors) will have to figure out what code to use when billing for the service with the ever-present danger of ending up in prison or fined a bunch of money for a mistake. And, of course, the extra expense imposed upon healthcare providers struggling to identify the correct codes will end up being paid for largely by private patients, making the healthcare system even more expensive for individuals caught up in the web of central planning.

We can thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for developing the system (called ICD-10 for International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision) and the World Health Organization for developing an earlier, less complex version on which it is based.

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