Coverage Indications, Limitations, and/or Medical Necessity

Notice: It is not appropriate to bill Medicare for services that are not covered (as described by this entire LCD) as if they are covered. When billing for non-covered services, use the appropriate modifier.

Compliance with the provisions in this policy may be monitored and addressed through post payment data analysis and subsequent medical review audits.

For purposes of coverage under Medicare, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a modality in which the entire body is exposed to oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure. The patient is entirely enclosed in a pressure chamber breathing 100% oxygen (O2) at greater than one atmosphere (atm) pressure. Either a mono-place chamber pressurized with pure O2 or a larger multi-place chamber pressurized with compressed air where the patient receives pure O2 by mask, head tent, or endotracheal tube may be used.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy serves four primary functions:

It increases the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the blood, which augments oxygenation to all parts of the body; and
It replaces inert gas in the bloodstream with oxygen, which is then metabolized by the body; and
It may stimulate the formation of a collagen matrix and angiogenesis; and
It acts as a bactericide for certain susceptible bacteria.

Developed as treatment for decompression illness, this modality is an established therapy for treating medical disorders such as carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, acute decompression illness and air embolism. HBO is also considered acceptable as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of sequelae of acute vascular compromise and in the management of some disorders that are refractory to standard medical and surgical care or the result of radiation injury.

Covered Conditions: 

Program reimbursement for HBO therapy is limited to the following conditions:

Acute carbon monoxide intoxication,
Decompression illness,
Gas embolism,
Gas gangrene,
Acute traumatic peripheral ischemia. HBO therapy is a valuable adjunctive treatment to be used in combination with accepted standard therapeutic measures when loss of function, limb, or life is threatened.
Crush injuries and suturing of severed limbs. As in the previous conditions, HBO therapy would be an adjunctive treatment when loss of function, limb, or life is threatened.
Progressive necrotizing infections (necrotizing fasciitis),
Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency,
Preparation and preservation of compromised skin grafts (not for primary management of wounds),
Chronic refractory osteomyelitis, unresponsive to conventional medical and surgical management,
Osteoradionecrosis as an adjunct to conventional treatment,
Soft tissue radionecrosis as an adjunct to conventional treatment,
Cyanide poisoning,
Actinomycosis, only as an adjunct to conventional therapy when the disease process is refractory to antibiotics and surgical treatment,
Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities in patients who meet the following three criteria:

a. Patient has type I or type II diabetes and has a lower extremity wound that is due to diabetes;
b. Patient has a wound classified as Wagner grade III or higher; and
c. Patient has failed an adequate course of standard wound therapy.

The use of HBO therapy is covered as adjunctive therapy only after there are no measurable signs of healing for at least 30 –days of treatment with standard wound therapy and must be used in addition to standard wound care. Standard wound care in patients with diabetic wounds includes: assessment of a patient’s vascular status and correction of any vascular problems in the affected limb if possible, optimization of nutritional status, optimization of glucose control, debridement by any means to remove devitalized tissue, maintenance of a clean, moist bed of granulation tissue with appropriate moist dressings, appropriate off-loading, and necessary treatment to resolve any infection that might be present. Failure to respond to standard wound care occurs when there are no measurable signs of healing for at least 30 consecutive days. Wounds must be evaluated at least every 30 days during administration of HBO therapy. Continued treatment with HBO therapy is not covered if measurable signs of healing have not been demonstrated within any 30-day period of treatment.


Topical Application of Oxygen

This method of administering oxygen does not meet the definition of HBO therapy as stated above, as its clinical efficacy has not been established. Therefore, Medicare considers the topical application of oxygen not reasonable and necessary. Medicare reimbursement will be limited to therapy that is administered in a chamber (including single or multi-place units)


99183 Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
G0277 Hbot, full body chamber, 30m

Covered ICD-10 diagnoses codes may be downloaded at:
https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coverage/DeterminationProcess/downloads/CR9252.zip, choose the spreadsheet 20.29 HBO Therapy.

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