The U.S. government recently implemented a series of changes to the codes insurance claims use to report various illnesses and causes of injury, which could mean bad news for your medical bills.
The codes haven’t been updated in the United States since 1978, and some of the diseases described in the new codes are strikingly peculiar. Many of them reflect injuries that could be incurred doing some of the activities Americans have grown accustomed to, and range from the unnecessary, to the humorous, to the bizarre.
Some of the less common injuries we hear about are those sustained while “knitting and crocheting.” Others include injuries caused by walking into a lamppost, burning due to flaming water skis, or even being “struck by an orca.”
It’s no wonder why insurance claims in the United States are so difficult to decipher. With so many legitimate diseases and sources of injury, minor differences could translate to major discrepancies in cost. For example, under the ICD-9 codes, there was no distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The old codes also had no proper diagnosis for Ebola, which made a serious comeback in the past few years.
Even though the newly updated system for describing diseases and causes of injury on insurance claims could streamline the industry in the long run, the transition won’t be a smooth one. And it doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that more people will receive treatment for common modern conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 35.7 million people currently don’t have health insurance. That’s almost 13.3 percent of the population of people aged 65 and under. Only 63.6 percent of these people had access to private insurance.
You can view a complete list of the new codes here to get an idea of just how complicated they can become. Healthcare is one of the biggest issues facing this country, and changes on such a massive scale as this recent switch to a new coding system provide better future organization at the expense of current delays and backups. It remains to be seen how the insurance industry and medical field will handle the transition to the new system, but for the time being we at least have to wonder how a person can be struck by a killer whale.