This actually makes me glad I don’t have medical insurance.

I get hurt, I bandage it or sew it or splint it or just wait to get over it. If none of those things will suffice, I get some money together and find somebody else who can sew it or splint it or tell me I’m gonna have to get over it. I don’t worry too much about medical codes. Before this morning I was only vaguely aware that such things as medical codes existed, and didn’t care at all. Now I think they’re vastly entertaining.

Today, hospitals and doctors use a system of about 18,000 codes to describe medical services in bills they send to insurers. Apparently, that doesn’t allow for quite enough nuance.

A new federally mandated version will expand the number to around 140,000—adding codes that describe precisely what bone was broken, or which artery is receiving a stent.

It will also have a code for recording that a patient’s injury occurred in a chicken coop.

Some doctors aren’t sure they need quite that much detail. “Really? Bathroom versus bedroom?” says Brian Bachelder, a family physician in Akron, Ohio. “What difference does it make?”

Parts of this article had me wondering if I were reading The Onion by mistake, rather than WSJ. I can only assume that somewhere out there is a government bureaucrat with a genuine – if expensive – sense of humor…

Some codes could seem downright insulting: R46.1 is “bizarre personal appearance (see code),” while R46.0 is “very low level of personal hygiene (see code).”

It’s not clear how many klutzes want to notify their insurers that a doctor visit was a W22.02XA, “walked into lamppost, initial encounter” (or, for that matter, a W22.02XD, “walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter”).

Code V91.07XA, which involves a “burn due to water-skis on fire (see codes),” is another mystery she ponders: “Is it work-related?” she asks. “Is it a trick skier jumping through hoops of fire? How does it happen?”

There are 312 animal codes in all, he says, compared to nine in the international version. There are separate codes for “bitten by turtle” and “struck by turtle.” (See codes.)

And of course, the inevitable bit of summation by understatement…

U.S. hospitals and insurers are bracing for possible hiccups when the move to ICD-10 happens on Oct. 1, 2013, even though they’ve known it was coming since early 2009.

Really? Ya think there might be possible hiccups? I wonder what the code is for that.

Srsly, RTW hilarious T.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to This actually makes me glad I don’t have medical insurance.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jeez, no wonder I can’t understand my insurance bills, the code information has been a complete mystery.

    Leave it to the insurance industry to change a ‘boo boo’ into a complete and utter mess – its no wonder people get the wrong parts worked on . . .

  2. Anonymous says:

    Had an ex who did this code bullshit as a billing agent for a Doctor. To make all this so much better in about 6 months they will change the codes. Without warning. They will also add as many new codes as they can. Similarly without warning. Suddenly everyone gets refused. Medicare (care?) will also have their OWN separate of codes. It will change about every 3 to 7 months. Also without warning.
    My wife got herself a UTI that she ignored(because she’s trying to imitate my boneheaded Monty Python Black Knight “‘Tis a scratch” bullshit) and that became a 3 day ICU stay for a massive kidney infection. The insurance assholes insist a 103º temp and one step away from dead from e-coli in the blood did not make for a medical necessity to hospitalize. Yeah….I could have treated that at home on a weekend. Sure. See, they didn’t get the right codes. The hospital doesn’t know them yet and insurance wont pay until they get them. Meanwhile I get nasty grams talking about collections from the hospital that isn’t up on it’s billing codes. They now go from you owe to we’re hiring a Lawyer, in three weeks. Unless you are an illegal alien, that is. I told Evelyn to NOT speak English and wave her damn green card around like a saber. Next time she’ll listen.
    Yay. Government making life simple for us by overcomplicating a private transaction…..again.


  3. Anonymous says:

    From the article:
    Being able to tabulate risks tied to locations such as chicken coops could be “important as far as surveillance activities” for public health research, says Donna Pickett, a medical systems administrator at the CDC.

    Now I get it.

  4. Carl-Bear says:

    Turtles rate two separate damage codes? Damn.

    I’m trading in my Firestar M45.

  5. MamaLiberty says:

    If anyone ever wondered why I left a long and hard won career as a medical professional… Now you know. We were no longer allowed to actually treat any patients most of the time years before I finally retired. And that was long before the “code” crap got to quite such giddy heights as this.

    Think of an initial “assessment” form that ran to 64 pages… and included such questions as: Do you take ‘street drugs’ regularly – what have you taken in the past, how often, etc. ad nausea. – and – Do you own any guns – where are they kept – yada yada.

    If anyone wants my advice… find a way to stay healthy and find alternative medicine practitioners NOW. It’s only going to get much, much worse. SOON.

  6. Carl-Bear says:

    Do you take ‘street drugs’ regularly

    Just street antacid when eating roadkill.

    Do you own any guns- where are they kept

    Within reach.

    Anymore stupid questions, Doctor? Or can we do something about the stitches now?

  7. CorbinKale says:

    It seems like overkill. Most injuries can be classed as ID10T incidents. ID10T… ICD-10… it’s like something out of a Nostradamus quatrain.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Finest medical care in the world?

    I wonder what the code for that is?

    stay safe,


To the stake with the heretic!