Medical coding and billing is already a complex process handled by those with expertise in the field and plenty of training. Medical coders have used a system known as the ICD-9 for decades which provides specialized codes for the classification of diseases which are used in medical bills.
That system is now being updated to the new version- the ICD-10 which is significantly more complicated and difficult for medical coders to adopt. With an already confusing system that will only get more intricate with the update, medical billing is going to be an increasingly complex part of the healthcare industry.
New ICD-10 Coding Guide
The new ICD-10 is a guide for the coding which will be used in the future for the classification of diseases in medical billing. This enormous list of codes is more than a thousand pages in small type and medical billers must familiarize themselves with this new guideline. Most medical billers are well-versed in the ICD-9 which contains only a comparatively small 14,000 codes as opposed to the updated version which now includes 68,000 codes to be used to identify illnesses.
The new version of the manual for medical billing is larger and more complex, but is meant to be much more accurate and detailed compared with the previous list of codes. It is very specific and exact about the ailments and accidents that are covered, each with its own separate code depending on the situation.
Insurers Are Concerned
Although the ICD-10 may be very detailed and a more accurate representation of all possible ailments and accidents that could be dealt with in the medical field hospitals and insurers are concerned about its complexity and the cost it will have on their industry. Many are fighting the transition to the new codes because they are causing a great burden on hospitals and costing them billions of dollars to have them implemented.
The problems with getting up to date with the new codes are both the enormous cost and the difficulty medical coders will have in adopting the new codes. Because of these issues the government has already delayed the implementation of the ICD-10 twice as it was originally set to be completed in 2008.
Some In Favor Of Implementing A New System
Those in favor of implementing the new system believe it will make it easier for public health researchers to find rare illnesses and accidents as well as identify possible signs of a pandemic. They are also concerned about how outdated the older version is becoming in modern times. The last edition of the ICD that is currently being used now was written in the 1970s and does not reflect the current state of healthcare.
While it may be necessary to modernize the medical codes used in hospital, the transition is likely to be very difficult, costly and time-consuming. Medical coders must be trained to make the change and technology must be updated to accommodate the new set of codes. Healthcare billing is going to become more accurate but also more complicated overall when the transition to the ICD-10 is finally completed.
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