The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Monday formally delayed new billing rules that doctors have criticized as overly complicated.
HHS gave doctors an extra year to begin using a new set of codes when billing insurance companies for their services. The new system, known as ICD-10, adds a slew of new codes to describe specific treatments. For example, there are separate codes for “walked into lamppost, initial encounter” and “walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter.”
All told, ICD-10 has about five times more codes than doctors use now. The American Medical Association had pressed hard for a delay, saying doctors simply couldn’t adapt to the new requirements as quickly as HHS had initially wanted.
The department said Monday that doctors have until October 2014 to make the switch to ICD-10.
The delay was formalized along with new regulations that HHS said will cut red tape and simplify certain administrative tasks for doctors, hospitals and health insurance plans.