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What are Medicare's HCPCS codes?

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Quick Answer

Medicare uses the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System to supplement the American Medical Association's Current Procedural Terminology codes in order to standardize treatment codes for insurance purposes, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. HCPCS codes consist of one letter followed by four digits.

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Full Answer

CPT codes represent the first level of Medicare codes, followed by HCPCS codes for the second level, notes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. HCPCS identifies supplies, services and products not included in CPT codes. Examples of such services include ambulance services, prosthetics, orthotic devices, supplies used outside of a doctor's office and durable medical equipment. Examples of HCPCS codes include Q2048 and Q2049 relating to liposomal doxorubicin.

Individuals download alphanumeric procedure and modifier codes from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. Files for 2015 include a table of drugs, the entire list of codes currently in use, the record layout and an index of codes. Each code entry contains long descriptions, short descriptions, and pricing data for administrators and health care providers. Computer files are listed in descending chronological order by year, as of 2015.

Level II HCPCS codes were developed in the 1980s, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. These codes are maintained by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services under authority of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

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