Preparing the Practice for New CDT Codes for 2019
Everyone in the dental practice, including both billing and clinical employees, should know the Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature (CDT) (Taxin 2018; Team Troubleshooter 2018). They have to be updated on any changes made to the CDT codes annually (“CDT 2019 dental code additions, revisions” 2018). For 2019, the staff members should be prepared to use the new codes.
The codes in 2019 contain several changes that help the practice identify certain procedures for insurance companies. All in all, these codes have a total of “15 additions, five revisions and four deletions that will go into effect Jan. 1” (“CDT 2019 dental code additions, revisions” 2018). Insurance companies can choose whether to cover some of these “new or revised codes” and dental practices should check their policies because the companies may change their benefits for next year (“CDT 2019 dental code additions, revisions and deletions announced” 2018). Regardless of whether the procedure is not covered, dentists must still report every procedure they provide for their patients (“CDT 2019 dental code additions, revisions and deletions announced” 2018). One of the important new CDT codes clinics can use for 2019 is “a code for ‘infiltration of a sustained release therapeutic drug – single or multiple site’” (Burger 2018). This code takes into account patients who opt for “non-narcotic alternatives for post-operative pain control” instead of opioids, which could lead to long-term problems (Burger 2018). One other important code that practices can report on claims in 2019 is a code for “the use of a blood glucose level test that provides an immediate finding of a patient’s blood glucose level” (Burger 2018). This code considers dentists that measures their patients’ blood sugar levels for “long, complex [procedures]…” (Burger 2018). For procedures that do not have codes yet, each section of the CDT codes contains a D_999 code, which means “unspecified, by report” (Team Troubleshooter 2017). With these codes, the practice must not only name the type of procedure they performed for the patient, but also include “a narrative or description of the care…” (Team Troubleshooter 2017). Updates resulting in CDT codes with more precise definitions can result in “fewer claims rejections and speedier reimbursement” and help dentists “build a thorough history of patient visits and treatment plans” (Burger 2018).
Many staff members should learn about these codes for their patients. When they know “the basics of insurance and coding” and are trained for them yearly, they can “motivate and educate patients to enroll in the treatments that they need” (DePalma 2012; Whisenhunt 2015). The practice should take advantage of “new coding books each year to keep up with any changes in definitions” (Whisenhunt 2015). Dentists should also employ someone specialized in insurance because he or she could answer any of their coworkers’ questions about the codes (Whisenhunt 2015).
For 2019, dental practices must learn the new CDT code changes, some of which improve documentation of certain procedures. Consequently, they do not have worry about billing insurance companies with incorrect codes.