by Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
April 12th, 2018
Billing nutrition counseling services may not be as straight-forward as you might think. Some providers mistakenly choose Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) codes (97802-97804, G0270, G0271) because it states nutrition therapy in the title. However, according to CPT guidelines, when MNT assessment and/or intervention is performed by a physician or qualified healthcare professional who may report evaluation and management services, they are supposed to report an Evaluation and Management or Preventive Medicine service code instead of the MNT codes.
- an age and gender appropriate history and examination
- counseling/anticipatory guidance/risk factor reduction interventions
- ordering of laboratory/diagnostic procedures
Documentation needs to clearly identify that this service is not for treatment of a disease-related diagnoses and some payers require may modifier 33.
Another possibility could be the 99401-99404 timed codes which are far less comprehensive than the previously listed preventive medicine codes and do not require the history and exam. Therefore, they are paid at a lesser rate (e.g., Medicare allowed $36 for 99401 vs $155 for 99386). While these codes are not payable by Medicare, many other commercial payers do cover these services.
Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)
MNT codes (97802-97804, G0270, G0271) are timed codes which are to be used by registered dieticians/nutritionists who can NOT report Evaluation and Management (E/M) codes. Use codes (97802-97804) for the original referral for an initial and/or subsequent visit.
Because these are time based codes, carefully watch the time limitations which are generally outlined in the payer's policy. For example, see Medicare's NCD 180.1. If a registered dietician's services are required for medical nutrition therapy for a subsequent evaluation in the same year, due to a diagnosis change or provider-requested change, this must be well documented and either code G0270 or G0271 should be reported (as appropriate).
For non-Medicare patients, the following codes might be appropriate:
- Review payer policies to ensure that you are meeting their guidelines. For example, many have covered diagnosis codes and MNT codes have very specific rules regarding the Plan of Care which must be followed.
- Preventive medicine codes are typically not payable with an E/M visit on the same date of service due to overlapping requirements
- MNT services have very specific rules, review both NCD and LCDs to ensure compliance.
- Don't forget to review Medically Unlikely Edits (MUEs) in the "Additional Code Information" section on the code listing on FindACode.com.
- If a maximum of 8 MUEs (which would be 2 hours) are allotted for the initial MNT assessment (97802) the first year and you only report 4 units (1 hour), you cannot report the final hour just because you didn’t use all of the allotted time in the first encounter. In other words, if an evaluation is done and a treatment plan is set and it only took an hour to do, the dietician cannot use that leftover hour at another encounter for the same problem.
- ForMNT, bill CPT codes for the first referral and then the G codes for the second referral in the same year, especially if you are going over the allotted limit of billable hours.