Are Doctors Ready for 68,000 Diagnostic Codes?

Know someone who drowned from jumping off burning water skis? Well, there’s a new medical billing code for that.

icd10picture-resized-600Been injured in a spacecraft? There’s a new code for that, too.

Roughed up by an Orca whale? It’s on the list.

There are codes for injuries incurred in opera houses and while knitting, and one for sibling rivalry.

Next fall, a transformation is coming to the arcane world of medical billing. Overnight, virtually the entire health care system — Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers, hospitals, doctors and various middlemen — will switch to a new set of computerized codes used for determining what ailments patients have and how much they and their insurers should pay for a specific treatment.

I.C.D.-10, with codes containing up to seven digits or letters, will have about 68,000 for diagnoses and 87,000 for procedures.

Andrew Pollack at the NYT.

Comments (25)

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  1. Jimbino says:

    It is important that the public gain access to these codes so that patients can compare what the medical provider charges with what Medicare and Medicaid pay.

    The AMA thinks it owns these codes and is reluctant to publish them, so much the better to maintain the doc-hospital-drug-insurance oligopoly.

    I had to file a FOIA request to get the list of Medicare allowances per code in Texas. The smart medical consumer will have to consult the lists to determine whether they’re still being cheated.

    • Mark says:

      “I had to file a FOIA request to get the list of Medicare allowances per code in Texas.”

      Whatever happened to transparency? What hope do we have for accountability?

    • Dr. Mike says:

      ICD 10 codes have naught to do with CPT Codes which are the ones owned by the AMA. Yes, they actually do own the CPT codes.

      • Jimbino says:

        Well, Dr Mike,

        If you really wanted to help patients, you might deign to explain the screwjob the public enjoys at the hands of the AMA and the docs who conspire with it to first do harm.

        • Dr. Mike says:

          Well Jimbino,
          You might want to first explain your anti-doctor vitriol towards a non-member of the AMA.

          • Jimbino says:

            As a consumer and a student of economics, I reserve a certain amount of vitriol for monopolists and oligopolists, particularly those who participate in gummint certification and who lobby to maintain their control over the profession and who conspire to hide everything from the consumer of health care.

            In any case, you don’t need to attack me; you could just answer the questions. Or do you need a CPT billing code first?

  2. Jackson says:

    I can barely remember my own phone number, let alone 68,000 codes.

  3. J. Kirk says:

    “Been injured in a spacecraft?”

    All the time.

  4. S. Eal. says:

    “Roughed up by an Orca whale?”

    Just last weekend.

  5. Wilbur says:

    “Know someone who drowned from jumping off burning water skis?”

    If I had a nickel for every time this happened…

  6. Yancey Ward says:

    What is the code for laughing one’s ass off?

  7. Liam says:

    Is there a search engine for these things or are doctors just supposed to remember them?

    • Kevin says:

      There has to at least be a book or something.

      • Jimbino says:


        The AMA has developed the ICD and CPT codes and has kept them a closely held secret. The last time I looked, you can access up to 5 or so codes on their website, but can’t get the whole list.

        Medicare and Medicaid sure do have the lists and so do all insurance companies. That’s how they know what is “fair” to pay for the treatment.

        You can try asking for a list of the codes and, if denied access, you can file a FOIA request as I did. Since the lists are maintained at public expense, you have a right to them.

        The big question I have is why the hell don’t websites like this one publish the list or give a link to it? It seems that EVERYBODY has an interest in obscuring the costs of medical “care” in Amerika.

  8. Dr. Mike says:

    The triad of Obamacare, looming CMS penalties, and ICD10 implementation are what drove me out of private practice. And I am not the only MD to be so affected. Most have gone into the arms of hospitals and other large corporations. It costs more to go to your doctor the day after he sold his practice than the day before – look up facility fees, hospital policies to encourage excess use of ancillary services and referrals to other employed MDs, etc. I would like to shout out a big effyou to all those responsible for this nonsense.

    • Jimbino says:

      Dr Mike,

      I don’t know you, but I sure as hell hold doctors blameworthy along with drug companies, hospitals and the insurance industry for the misery Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid inflict upon us. Not to mention the VA.

      My schadenfreude makes me rejoice to see Amerikan docs become mere cogs in the gummint socialist machinery.

      • Dr. Mike says:

        I don’t know you, but I do have a psych appointment available Thursday at 2pm if you have a few more anti-doctor paranoid rants you want to contribute.

        • Jimbino says:


          You’d be laughing out of the other side of your mouth if you had to debate me in front of a live studio audience. Do you feed your patients this fantasy instead of facts?