Billing trends could signal rise in upcoding

Physicians have been billing Medicare for increasingly complex--and more expensive--procedures over the past 10 years, signaling a growing upcoding trend that adds $11 billion to healthcare costs, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. Doctors ramped up their use of higher-paying codes for office visits between 2001 and 2010, largely abandoning the lower-paying ones, while hospitals increased their use of the highest-reimbursing codes for emergency room visits. According to providers, the rise in fees stem from the growing complexity and time it takes to treat seniors. However, the analysis found little proof that Medicare patients have been getting sicker or need longer, more complicated care, noted a Center for Public Integrity article in The Washington Post. --Read the full story from FierceHealthcare