Private insurers generally do not reimburse for telephone psychotherapy. No CPT code for psychotherapy can be used for telephone therapy because it’s not a face-to-face service. Because it can be considered misleading, patients treated telephonically should not be billed for “individual psychotherapy,” nor should their services be coded as 90806 or any other CPT code. Rather, in billing use the description “telephone psychotherapy” without any accompanying CPT code. Some insurers will, however, allow use of such CPT coding for and reimbursement of episodic telephone sessions such as when an established patient is away on vacation or home ill. But as far as I know, none allow these for regularly planned or frequent telephone therapy. Exceptions may be granted; you, the patient, or both of you may make a case to insurers that one is warranted, but prior full disclosure to the insurers would be required.
There are standard of care issues as well. Can you provide psychotherapeutic treatment that meets customary standards for safety and efficacy by means of planned regular use of the telephone as a primary means of communication? Presumably, you will be lacking information that you might otherwise glean from face-to-face encounters with patients. Resolution of these questions require recourse to professional research and ethical and community standards. You might address them additionally in an informed consent document, in which you label as experimental the telephonic aspect of treatment, and if possible, offer patients alternative non-telephonic referrals if and when exigent circumstances arise.
… read the complete story ~ http://issuu.com/onlinetherapyinstitute/docs/tiltiss7?mode=window&pageNumber=34
This article first appeared in the September 2011 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.
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Bruce Hillowe practices law in the state of New York, USA, emphasizing Mental Healthcare Law, Healthcare Law and Mediation and has served his Community for 29 Years. This article is a reprint from his quarterly newsletter in which he offers a Health Law Supplement in each issue. Visit his website at: www.BruceHillowe.com