August 2, 2011
As an older physician, my primary medical insurance is Medicare. May I legally bill Medicare for injections that I administer to myself? (I've tried having colleagues give me the injections, but they are not as gentle and do not use as small a needle as I do.) May I also bill for an office visit if I arrange to have an MRI for an unrelated condition?
Dr. F, the answer is you cannot bill for services rendered on yourself by yourself. One theory why this would be inappropriate is because there are a smattering of laws in place to protect against abusive billing in the system. If practitioners were allowed to bill for services they rendered on themselves, what would stop a practitioner from billing all kinds of stuff they aren't necessarily performing?
In addition to this theory, I wanted a straight answer to your question so I also reached out to Jackie Thelian, President of Medco Consultants. Jackie has a national presence in coding and coding education; she provided the following answer -
In response to your question. Medicare bars payment for items and services that would ordinarily be furnished gratuitously because of the relationship of the beneficiary to the person imposing the charge. This is listed in the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual Chapter 16 - General Exclusions From Coverage Section 130 - Charges Imposed by Immediate Relatives of the Patient or Members of the Patient’s Household. (See below)
Although this speaks to relatives or members of the Patient’s household, it is also not expected that a physician would charge himself/herself for services they provide to themselves.
It is also important to note that many of the other commercial insurance carriers also include this language in their contracts/agreements.
Jacqueline Thelian, CPC, CPC-I
PMCC Approved Instructor
Medco Consultants, Inc.
61-23 190th Street, #311
Fresh Meadows, N.Y. 11365
Phone: 718-217-3802 Fax: 718-217-4236
130 - Charges Imposed by Immediate Relatives of the Patient or Members of the Patient’s Household
(Rev. 1, 10-01-03)
A3-3161, HO-260.12, B3-2332
These are expenses that constitute charges by immediate relatives of the beneficiary or by members of their household. The intent of this exclusion is to bar Medicare payment for items and services that would ordinarily be furnished gratuitously because of the relationship of the beneficiary to the person imposing the charge. This exclusion applies to items and services rendered by providers to immediate relatives of the owner(s) of the provider. It also applies to services rendered by physicians to their immediate relatives and items furnished by suppliers to immediate relatives of the owner(s) of the supplier.
B. Immediate Relative
The following degrees of relationship are included within the definition of immediate relative.
Husband and wife;
Natural or adoptive parent, child, and sibling;
Stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, and stepsister;
Father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law;
Grandparent and grandchild; and
Spouse of grandparent and grandchild.
NOTE 1: A brother-in-law or sister-in-law relationship does not exist between the physician, supplier or owner of a provider (or supplier) and the spouse of his wife’s or her husband’s brother or sister.
NOTE 2: A father-in-law or mother-in-law relationship does not exist between a physician or the owner of a provider and his or her spouse’s stepfather or stepmother.
A step-relationship and an in-law relationship continues to exist even if the marriage upon which the relationship is based is terminated through divorce or through the death of one of the parties. For example, if a provider treats the stepfather of the owner after the death of the owner’s natural mother or after the owner’s stepfather and natural mother are divorced, or if the provider treats the owner’s father-in-law or mother-in-law after the death of their spouse, the services are considered to have been furnished to an immediate relative, and therefore, are excluded from coverage.
C. Members of Patient’s Household
These are persons sharing a common abode with the patient as a part of a single family unit, including those related by blood, marriage or adoption, domestic employees and others who live together as part of a single family unit. A mere roomer or boarder is not included.
D. Charges for Provider Services
Payment is not made under Part A or Part B for items and services furnished by providers to immediate relatives of the owner(s) of the providers. This exclusion applies whether the provider is a sole proprietor who has an excluded relationship to the patient, or a partnership in which even one of the partners is related to the patient.
E. Charges for Physician and Physician-Related Services
This exclusion applies to physician services, including services of a physician who belongs to a professional corporation, and services furnished incident to those services (for example, by the physician’s nurse or technician) if the physician who furnished the services or who ordered or supervised services incident to their services has an excluded relationship to the beneficiary.
Professional corporation means a corporation that is completely owed by one or more physicians, and is operated for the purpose of conducting the practice of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, podiatry, optometry, or chiropractic, or is owned by other health care professionals as authorized by State law. Any physician or group of physicians which is incorporated constitutes a professional corporation. (Generally, physicians who are incorporated identify themselves by adding letters such as P.C. or P.A. after their title.)
F. Charges for Items Furnished by Nonphysician Suppliers
This exclusion applies to charges imposed by a nonphysician supplier that is not incorporated, whether the supplier is owned by a sole proprietor who has an excluded relationship to the patient, or by a partnership in which even one of the partners is related. It does not apply to charges imposed by a corporation (other than a professional corporation), regardless of the patient’s relationship to any of the stockholders, officers, or directors of the corporation or to the person who furnished the service.
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