A friendly debate about whether anesthesiologists bill that many office visits erupted during DecisionHealth’s just-concluded 16th annual Anesthesia Billing, Coding & Compliance Summit. You’d expect the number to be somewhere between a tiny amount and very few. (Readers of the Anesthesia & Pain Coder’s Pink Sheet can get all the details in the article, “Surprise! You might be able to bill for that pre-op visit.”)
But then how to explain Medicare utilization data? In 2011, anesthesiologists billed almost twice as many level IV new patient visits as pain management physicians. And they billed almost 760,000 level III established patient visits last year. An established visit to an anesthesiologist? That doesn’t seem too likely.
But the numbers just show us what happened, they don’t explain why it happened. One theory: those office visits, especially the established visits, reflect an increase in pain management services by anesthesia providers. But we’d love to hear your opinions, thoughts and theories. Share them and we’ll run them in an upcoming DecisionHealth Daily.