Medical Billing and Coding students doubting the government’s deadlines

Kim+Nguyen
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Medical Billing and Coding students doubting the government’s deadlines

Kim Nguyen

Kim Nguyen

Kim Nguyen

Kim Nguyen

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First, what is ICD-10?

Physicians, billers, coders, and other providers use International Classification of Diseases (ICD) to code diagnoses, symptoms, and procedures recorded in hospitals and doctors’ offices. ICD-10 with 68,000 diagnostic codes is the revision of ICD-9 with only 13,000 codes.

What is the problem here?

ICD-10 was supposed to go into effect by Oct 1, 2013, but it was delayed and was promised with the deadline by Oct 1, 2014. As if one delay was not enough, the Senate voted in the bill, H.R. 4302, Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, that states that the Department of Health and Human Services cannot apply the ICD-10 system as the standard until at least Oct. 1, 2015.

What does this mean?

It is not an easy thing for those who work in the U.S. health care to change from ICD-9 to ICD-10, especially when ICD-9 has been in effect since the 1970s. Now that we are ready to adopt the “new” change – ICD-10 was developed in the 1990s, why do we keep having problems of putting it into effect? The ICD-10 has already been use widely in many countries around the world, but not in the U.S. The next thing we know, ICD-11 is waiting on us.

What’s the national effect?

Journal.ahima.org says Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has estimated that another one-year delay of ICD-10 would likely cost the industry an additional $1 billion to $6.6 billion on top of the costs already incurred from the previous one-year delay. This does not include the lost opportunity costs of failing to move to a more effective code set, American Health Information Management Association officials said. More importantly, many coding education programs has switched to teaching only ICD-10 to students, hospitals and physician offices had begun moving into the final stages of costly and comprehensive transitions to the new code set. The delay directly impacts at least 25,000 students who have learned to code exclusively in ICD-10 in health information management (HIM), AHIMA said in a statement.

What is the individual effect?

I’m a Medical Billing and Coding student. I joined the program that is expected to be done in one year and a half with only 45 credit hours. Due to the government-created mess that is related to ICD-10, three of my coding classes were pushed back to the next semester twice, which means I will be spending two and a half years for what should have been a one and a half year coding program. I am walking for graduation in May 2015 but I still have to come back and take the last three classes next fall. A Health Information Technician student commented on journal.ahima .org: “Being two months away from graduation, I just wonder how this will affect the RHIT certification exam for this year. It’s very disappointing and discouraging to learn of this news.” A man on another comment board wrote this: “This is very bad for students and staff that have been learning and teaching ICD-10 exclusively. What a mess. Congress is so broken and beholden to big money.” And yet another commenter said, “It is extremely unfortunate for the thousands and thousands of students who could be entering the health information field but now cannot because we are “too advanced” for so many physicians. “One of the largest growing career field is being brought to a screeching halt because a few complaining providers can’t handle change, even when the change is obviously for the good of their patients.”

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