CPT units reporting and calculation for timed procedure


Reporting of Service Units With HCPCS


A. General

Effective with claims submitted on or after April 1, 1998, providers billing on the ASC X12 837 institutional claim format or Form CMS-1450 were required to report the number of units for outpatient rehabilitation services based on the procedure or service, e.g., based on the HCPCS code reported instead of the revenue code. This was already in effect for billing on the Form CMS-1500, and CORFs were required to report their full range of CORF services on the institutional claim. These unit-reporting requirements continue with the standards required for electronically submitting health care claims under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) - the currently adopted version of the ASC X12 837 transaction standards and implementation guides. The Administrative Simplification Compliance Act mandates that claims be sent to Medicare electronically unless certain exceptions are met.


B. Timed and Untimed Codes

When reporting service units for HCPCS codes where the procedure is not defined by a specific timeframe (“untimed” HCPCS), the provider enters “1” in the field labeled units. For untimed codes, units are reported based on the number of times the procedure is performed, as described in the HCPCS code definition (often once per day).

EXAMPLE: A beneficiary received a speech-language pathology evaluation represented by HCPCS “untimed” code 92521. Regardless of the number of minutes spent providing this service only one unit of service is appropriately billed on the same day.

Several CPT codes used for therapy modalities, procedures, and tests and measurements specify that the direct (one on one) time spent in patient contact is 15 minutes. Providers report procedure codes for services delivered on any single calendar day using CPT codes and the appropriate number of 15 minute units of service.


EXAMPLE: A beneficiary received occupational therapy (HCPCS “timed” code 97530 which is defined in 15 minute units) for a total of 60 minutes. The provider would then report revenue code 043X and 4 units.


C. Counting Minutes for Timed Codes in 15 Minute Units

When only one service is provided in a day, providers should not bill for services performed for less than 8 minutes. For any single timed CPT code in the same day measured in 15 minute units, providers bill a single 15-minute unit for treatment greater than or equal to 8 minutes through and including 22 minutes. If the duration of a single modality or procedure in a day is greater than or equal to 23 minutes, through and including 37 minutes, then 2 units should be billed. Time intervals for 1 through 8 units are as follows:


Units Number of Minutes

1 unit: = 8 minutes through 22 minutes

2 units: = 23 minutes through 37 minutes

3 units: = 38 minutes through 52 minutes

4 units: = 53 minutes through 67 minutes

5 units: = 68 minutes through 82 minutes

6 units: = 83 minutes through 97 minutes

7 units: = 98 minutes through 112 minutes

8 units: = 113 minutes through 127 minutes

The pattern remains the same for treatment times in excess of 2 hours.

If a service represented by a 15 minute timed code is performed in a single day for at least 15 minutes, that service shall be billed for at least one unit. If the service is performed for at least 30 minutes, that service shall be billed for at least two units, etc. It is not appropriate to count all minutes of treatment in a day toward the units for one code if other services were performed for more than 15 minutes. See examples 2 and 3 below.

When more than one service represented by 15 minute timed codes is performed in a single day, the total number of minutes of service (as noted on the chart above) determines the number of timed units billed. See example 1 below.


If any 15 minute timed service that is performed for 7 minutes or less than 7 minutes on the same day as another 15 minute timed service that was also performed for 7 minutes or less and the total time of the two is 8 minutes or greater than 8 minutes, then bill one unit for the service performed for the most minutes. This is correct because the total time is greater than the minimum time for one unit. The same logic is applied when three or more different services are provided for 7 minutes or less than 7 minutes. See example 5 below.


The expectation (based on the work values for these codes) is that a provider’s direct patient contact time for each unit will average 15 minutes in length. If a provider has a consistent practice of billing less than 15 minutes for a unit, these situations should be highlighted for review.

If more than one 15 minute timed CPT code is billed during a single calendar day, then the total number of timed units that can be billed is constrained by the total treatment minutes for that day. See all examples below.


Pub. 100-02, Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 15, Section 220.3B, Documentation Requirements for Therapy Services, indicates that the amount of time for each specific intervention/modality provided to the patient is not required to be documented in the Treatment Note. However, the total number of timed minutes must be documented. These examples indicate how to count the appropriate number of units for the total therapy minutes provided.


Example 1 –

24 minutes of neuromuscular reeducation, code 97112,

23 minutes of therapeutic exercise, code 97110,

Total timed code treatment time was 47 minutes.

See the chart above. The 47 minutes falls within the range for 3 units = 38 to 52 minutes.

Appropriate billing for 47 minutes is only 3 timed units. Each of the codes is performed for more than 15 minutes, so each shall be billed for at least 1 unit. The correct coding is 2 units of code 97112 and one unit of code 97110, assigning more timed units to the service that took the most time.


Example 2 –

20 minutes of neuromuscular reeducation (97112)

20 minutes therapeutic exercise (97110),

40 Total timed code minutes.

Appropriate billing for 40 minutes is 3 units. Each service was done at least 15 minutes and should be billed for at least one unit, but the total allows 3 units. Since the time for each service is the same, choose either code for 2 units and bill the other for 1 unit. Do not bill 3 units for either one of the codes.


Example 3 –

33 minutes of therapeutic exercise (97110),

7 minutes of manual therapy (97140),

40 Total timed minutes

Appropriate billing for 40 minutes is for 3 units. Bill 2 units of 97110 and 1 unit of 97140. Count the first 30 minutes of 97110 as two full units. Compare the remaining time for 97110 (33-30 = 3 minutes) to the time spent on 97140 (7 minutes) and bill the larger, which is 97140.


Example 4 –

18 minutes of therapeutic exercise (97110),

13 minutes of manual therapy (97140),

10 minutes of gait training (97116),

8 minutes of ultrasound (97035),

49 Total timed minutes

Appropriate billing is for 3 units. Bill the procedures you spent the most time providing. Bill 1 unit each of 97110, 97116, and 97140. You are unable to bill for the ultrasound because the total time of timed units that can be billed is constrained by the total timed code treatment minutes (i.e., you may not bill 4 units for less than 53 minutes regardless of how many services were performed). You would still document the ultrasound in the treatment notes.



Example 5 –

7 minutes of neuromuscular reeducation (97112)

7 minutes therapeutic exercise (97110)

7 minutes manual therapy (97140)

21 Total timed minutes

Appropriate billing is for one unit. The qualified professional (See definition in Pub. 100-02, chapter 15, section 220) shall select one appropriate CPT code (97112, 97110, 97140) to bill since each unit was performed for the same amount of time and only one unit is allowed.


NOTE: The above schedule of times is intended to provide assistance in rounding time into 15-minute increments. It does not imply that any minute until the eighth should be excluded from the total count. The total minutes of active treatment counted for all 15 minute timed codes includes all direct treatment time for the timed codes. Total treatment minutes - including minutes spent providing services represented by untimed codes - are also documented. For documentation in the medical record of the services provided see Pub. 100-02, chapter 15, section 220.3.


D. Specific Limits for HCPCS

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, section 5107 requires the implementation of clinically appropriate code edits to eliminate improper payments for outpatient therapy services. The following codes may be billed, when covered, only at or below the number of units indicated on the chart per treatment day. When higher amounts of units are billed than those indicated in the table below, the units on the claim line that exceed the limit shall be denied as medically unnecessary (according to 1862(a)(1)(A)). Denied claims may be appealed and an ABN is appropriate to notify the beneficiary of liability.


This chart does not include all of the codes identified as therapy codes; refer to section 20 of this chapter for further detail on these and other therapy codes. For example, therapy codes called “always therapy” must always be accompanied by therapy modifiers identifying the type of therapy plan of care under which the service is provided.


Use the chart in the following manner:

The codes that are allowed one unit for “Allowed Units” in the chart below may be billed no more than once per provider, per discipline, per date of service, per patient.


The codes allowed 0 units in the column for “Allowed Units”, may not be billed under a plan of care indicated by the discipline in that column. Some codes may be billed by one discipline (e.g., PT) and not by others (e.g., OT or SLP).
When physicians/NPPs bill “always therapy” codes they must follow the policies of the type of therapy they are providing e.g., utilize a plan of care, bill with the appropriate therapy modifier (GP, GO, GN), bill the allowed units on the chart below for PT, OT or SLP depending on the plan. A physician/NPP shall not bill an “always therapy” code unless the service is provided under a therapy plan of care. Therefore, NA stands for “Not Applicable” in the chart below.


When a “sometimes therapy” code is billed by a physician/NPP, but as a medical service, and not under a therapy plan of care, the therapy modifier shall not be used, but the number of units billed must not exceed the number of units indicated in the chart below per patient, per provider/supplier, per day.


HCPCS                     Code Description and Claim Line Outlier/Edit Details              Timed or Untimed

PT Allowed units              OT Allowed units           SLP Allowed units         Physician/NPP NOT under Therapy POC


92521
Evaluation of speech fluency
Untimed
0
0
1
NA


92522
Evaluation of speech sound production
Untimed
0
0
1
NA


92523
Evaluation of language comprehension and expression
Untimed
0
0
1
NA



92524
Behavioral and qualitative analysis of voice and resonance
Untimed
0
0
1
NA


92597
Oral speech device eval
Untimed
0
1
1
NA


92607
Ex for speech device rx, 1hr
Timed
0
1
1
NA


92611
Motion fluroscopy/swallow
Untimed
0
1
1
1


92612
Endoscope swallow test (fees)
Untimed
0
1
1
1



92614
Laryngoscopic sensory test
Untimed
0
1
1
1


92616
Fees w/laryngeal sense test
Untimed
0
1
1
1


95833
Limb muscle testing, manual
Untimed
1
1
0
1



95834
Limb muscle testing, manual
Untimed
1
1
0
1



96110
Developmental test, lim
Untimed
1
1
1
1



96111
Developmental test, extend
Untimed
1
1
1
1



97001
PT evaluation
Untimed
1
0
0
NA


97002
PT re-evaluation
Untimed
1
0
0
NA


97003
OT evaluation
Untimed
0
1
0
NA



97004
OT re-evaluation
Untimed
0
1
0
NA


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