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Top Billed Mental Health CPT Codes in 2023

Angela Doel

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Figuring out the complexities of mental health billing requires a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the most current CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes. These codes are important for therapists and mental health professionals to accurately bill for their services, ensuring they are compensated appropriately while maintaining compliance with insurance requirements. In this blog we will explore the top billed CPT codes for mental health billing in 2023, offering insights into their applications and significance. By staying informed on these updates, practitioners can improve their billing processes, optimize reimbursement, and fully focus on providing quality care to their clients.

Categories of Mental Health CPT Codes

For mental health services, CPT codes cover a wide range of services, including psychiatric evaluations, psychotherapy, and testing. Here are some common CPT codes used for mental health services:

  • Psychiatric Diagnostic Evaluation (90791, 90792): Used for diagnostic assessments, including with or without medical services. Covers the initial evaluation of a new patient or a new evaluation of an existing patient with a new problem or a significant change in condition.

  • Psychotherapy (90832, 90834, 90837, 90839, 90840): Used for psychotherapy sessions of different durations. For example, 90832 is typically used for a 30-minute session, 90834 for a 45-minute session, and 90837 for a 60-minute session.

  • Interactive Complexity (90785): Used in conjunction with other service codes when specific communication factors complicate the delivery of psychiatric procedures.

  • Group Psychotherapy (90853): Used for psychotherapy services provided to a group of patients, focusing on improving psychological or behavioral health through shared experiences.

  • Psychological and Neuropsychological Testing (96130, 96131, 96132, 96133, 96136, 96137, 96138, 96139): Used for psychological testing evaluation services by a psychologist or physician, and neuropsychological testing by a psychologist or physician. The codes distinguish between the first hour and each additional hour (or part thereof) for both evaluation and testing services.

  • Health and Behavior Assessment/Intervention (96156, 96158, 96159, 96164, 96165): Used for services addressing the psychological, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and social factors important to the treatment and management of physical health problems.

  • Psychiatric Diagnostic Evaluation (90791, 90792): Used for initial diagnostic assessments, with or without medical services, to determine a patient’s mental health condition.

  • Psychotherapy with E/M Services (90833, 90836, 90838): Used for sessions that combine psychotherapy with evaluation and management services, typically provided by psychiatrists or other medical professionals capable of performing both.

  • Family Psychotherapy (90846, 90847): For sessions involving family members, with or without the patient present, to address family dynamics affecting the patient’s mental health.

  • Crisis Psychotherapy (90839, 90840): Providing immediate therapeutic intervention for emergency sessions addressing an acute crisis.

The specific CPT codes used depend on the service details, the setting in which the service is provided (e.g., office, hospital), and other factors.

Most Billed Mental Health CPT Codes in 2023

90837—Psychotherapy, 60 minutes:

CPT code 90837 is designated for individual psychotherapy sessions that last 60 minutes. This code is one of the most used in mental health services for providing psychotherapy.

Description and Use

  • Specifically, it covers 60-minute sessions, the time typically spent in one-on-one, face-to-face therapy with the patient. Preparation and follow-up are understood parts of the service.
  • Code can be used for various psychotherapeutic techniques and approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, and others, depending on the therapist’s training and the patient's needs.

When billing insurance, it’s important for therapists to document the necessity of the 60-minute session length, as some insurance plans might scrutinize the use of this code over shorter session codes (like 90832 for 30 minutes or 90834 for 45 minutes) to ensure that the extended session time is clinically justified. Clinicians should keep detailed notes that justify the 60-minute session, outlining the specific therapeutic interventions used and the clinical rationale for the session length.

Some insurance plans may require pre-authorization for the use of code 90837, especially if it’s used frequently with a patient. Clinicians should check with individual insurance plans regarding their policies.

Using code 90837 should be based on the patient's clinical needs. Some patients may benefit from longer sessions due to the complexity of their issues, the need for a more intensive therapeutic intervention, or when working through particularly difficult topics. The frequency of these sessions (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) should be determined by the patient's therapeutic goals, progress, and the therapist's clinical judgment.

Code 90837 can also be used for virtual sessions, assuming the session meets the same standards and duration as in-person therapy. Clinicians should ensure they are compliant with all telehealth regulations and insurance policies.

Therapists must adhere to ethical guidelines and professional standards, ensuring that the use of 90837 is in the patient's best interest and not driven by billing incentives. Additionally, Clinicians should consider cultural, individual, and situational factors that might affect the appropriateness and effectiveness of 60-minute sessions for different patients.

90834—Psychotherapy, 45 minutes:

CPT code 90834 is designated for individual psychotherapy sessions that are approximately 45 minutes long. Commonly utilized in mental health settings to bill for psychotherapy services, this code represents a middle ground between shorter, more focused sessions and longer, in-depth sessions.

Description and use

  • specifically for sessions that last 45 minutes. This duration is considered adequate for addressing various psychological issues without needing the extended time that a 60-minute session (coded as 90837) provides.
  • used for one-on-one therapy sessions between a mental health professional and a patient.
  • accommodates various therapeutic techniques suitable for treating mental health disorders, including CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), solution-focused brief therapy, and others that fit within the session's timeframe.

Most insurance plans cover code 90834, but therapists must verify coverage details, including session limits and any need for pre-authorization, as policies vary widely. To ensure reimbursement, therapists must provide detailed documentation that justifies the choice of a 45-minute session. Notes should reflect the interventions used, session content, and how the session addressed the patient’s specific treatment goals.

When deciding between using 90834 and other psychotherapy codes (such as 90832 for 30-minute sessions or 90837 for 60-minute sessions), clinicians must consider the patient's clinical needs, treatment progress, and the complexity of issues being addressed.

Using code 90834 should be grounded in clinical judgment regarding the most beneficial for the patient’s therapeutic needs and goals. The duration allows for substantial therapeutic work within a session, suitable for various issues. Therapists should consider patient preferences and their response to therapy duration. Some patients may find 45-minute sessions to be the optimal length for their attention span and emotional stamina. The frequency with which code 90834 is billed (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly) should be based on clinical necessity, the intensity of therapy, and patient progress.

The 45-minute duration offers a balance that can be particularly useful in various therapeutic contexts, including ongoing treatment where a full hour may not always be necessary or in settings where scheduling constraints limit session length. As with other psychotherapy codes, code 90834 applies to teletherapy sessions, provided they meet the same standards for care and documentation as in-person therapy.

90791—Psychiatric diagnostic evaluation without medical services:

CPT code 90791 is designated for a psychiatric diagnostic evaluation without medical services. This code marks the initial step in therapeutic or psychiatric treatment. The comprehensive evaluation aims to assess a patient's mental health status, including psychological, biological, and social factors.

Description and Use

  • Primary goal is to diagnose psychiatric disorders, formulate a mental health treatment plan, and establish a baseline for the patient's mental health. It involves a thorough assessment of current mental health issues, history, and psychosocial factors impacting their condition.
  • Encompasses various assessment methods, including clinical interviews, record review, and third-party discussions (when appropriate). Does not include medical services such as physical exams or medication management.
  • Focuses on psychiatric evaluation without the provision of medical services. So, while the evaluation can identify the need for medication, the actual prescription or management of medication would not be included under this code.

Proper documentation is essential for billing using this code. Providers should detail the scope of the evaluation, including the areas assessed (e.g., mental status exam, history of present illness, family dynamics, and social history) and the rationale for any diagnoses or recommended treatments.

Most insurance plans cover psychiatric diagnostic evaluations, but clinicians must verify whether a patient's insurance requires pre-authorization for this service. It's also important to note any limitations on the number of diagnostic evaluations covered within a certain time frame. Typically, code 90791 can be billed once per treatment episode or provider, intended for the initial evaluation phase. Subsequent sessions would be billed under different codes appropriate to the services rendered, such as psychotherapy or medication management codes.

The evaluation serves as the foundation for all future mental health care, offering a comprehensive overview of the patient’s mental health that guides treatment planning. It allows for identifying primary and secondary psychiatric diagnoses – critical for effective treatment.

Based on the evaluation, a clinician can develop a tailored treatment plan that may include psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, or referrals for other services such as psychoeducational testing or specialized therapy.

The initial evaluation is also an opportunity to establish rapport with the patient, providing a space for them to share their concerns and goals for treatment. It sets the tone for the therapeutic relationship and engagement in the treatment process.

While there is no fixed duration for a code 90791 evaluation, it typically takes between 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the complexity of the patient's history and presenting problems. In some cases, findings from the evaluation may require collaboration with other healthcare providers, such as when there is a need for medical evaluation or when coordinating care for comorbid conditions.

90847—Family psychotherapy (with client present), 50 minutes:

CPT code 90847 is designated for family psychotherapy sessions that include the patient and are approximately 50 minutes long. This code is used when the therapeutic session focuses on treating the patient's mental health condition within the context of the family. Family psychotherapy is an essential component of mental health treatment for many individuals, as it addresses the interpersonal relationships and dynamics that can impact someone’s mental health.

Description and Use

  • focus of sessions is on the family system, with the intent of improving communication, resolving conflicts, and making systemic changes to support the patient’s mental health treatment.
  • interaction between family members is a key component of the therapeutic process.
  • a variety of therapeutic techniques suited for family therapy may be used, such as structural, strategic, systemic, or narrative therapy. The choice of technique is tailored to the family's needs and the therapist's expertise.
  • this code applies regardless of the number of family members present if therapy is focused on family interactions – and the patient is part of the session.

Thorough documentation is important to justify the use of code 90847. Notes should detail the family members present, the issues addressed during the session, and how the session contributes to the patient's treatment goals.

Insurance policies vary in their coverage for family psychotherapy. Providers should verify whether a patient's insurance plan covers CPT code 90847 and understand any limitations or requirements for pre-authorization. It's important to distinguish 90847 from couples therapy (CPT code 90846, which is for the couple without the patient present, or other codes that might be used for couples therapy with the patient present). The focus on family dynamics and the inclusion of the patient differentiates it from therapy aimed solely at relationship issues between partners.

Handling confidentiality in family therapy can be complex, especially when children are involved. Therapists must navigate these issues carefully, ensuring all family members understand the confidentiality agreement.

Family therapy must be conducted with an awareness of and sensitivity to cultural differences in family dynamics, communication styles, and values.

90853—Group psychotherapy (other than a multiple-family group):

CPT code 90853 represents group psychotherapy, excluding sessions that involve multiple families. This code is used for billing therapeutic sessions conducted with a group of patients, typically focusing on improving psychological or behavioral health through interactive, collective therapy processes. Group psychotherapy offers unique therapeutic benefits, including the opportunity for participants to share experiences, offer mutual support, and learn from each other's coping strategies under the guidance of a trained therapist.

Description and Application

  • Sessions usually last between 45 to 60 minutes, though this can vary based on the therapist's approach and the group's needs. The group size can also vary but typically ranges from 5 to 15 participants to allow for meaningful interaction and personal attention from the therapist.
  • Focus can be broad, addressing general mental health and coping strategies, or more specific, targeting issues such as grief, substance use, depression, anxiety, or social skills. The structure of the session and the therapeutic techniques employed are adapted to suit the group's focus.
  • Group psychotherapy leverages the power of peer support and validation, facilitating insight and personal growth. It provides a platform for individuals to practice interpersonal dynamics in a safe and controlled environment.

For billing purposes, clinicians must keep detailed records that include the session's date and duration, the participants' names, and a summary of the therapeutic content and interventions used during the session.

Coverage for group psychotherapy varies by insurance provider, so providers must verify benefits and obtain any necessary pre-authorization for group therapy services to ensure reimbursement. Some insurance plans may limit the number of group therapy sessions covered within a certain timeframe.

90846—Family psychotherapy (without the patient present), 50 minutes:

CPT code 90846 is designated for family psychotherapy sessions conducted without the patient present and typically lasts for 50 minutes. This code is used when the therapeutic focus is on treating or addressing the issues within the family system that affect the mental health of an individual family member who is not present during the session. Family members may speak more freely about sensitive issues, facilitating a deeper understanding of the dynamics affecting the patient's mental health and fostering a supportive environment for change.

Description and Application

  • Sessions aim to change the interactions within the family that are contributing to the patient's mental health condition. It involves educating the family, improving communication patterns, and developing strategies to support the patient.
  • Involves various therapeutic techniques suited for family therapy, such as systemic family therapy, narrative therapy, or solution-focused therapy, depending on the family's needs and the therapist's expertise.
  • Therapy can include parents, siblings, or other significant individuals in the patient’s life who are part of the family system.

Documentation for sessions should include the date and duration of the session, the family members present, the issues discussed, and the therapeutic interventions used. It should also clearly justify the clinical rationale for conducting therapy without the patient in attendance.

Coverage for family psychotherapy without the patient varies among insurance providers. Check with the patient's insurance to understand coverage details and whether pre-authorization is required. To ensure accurate billing, clinicians must distinguish code 90846 from other family therapy codes, such as 90847 (family psychotherapy with the client present). The choice of code reflects the therapeutic strategy and the session's structure.

The decision to use code 90846 should be based on a strategic clinical assessment of the family's needs and the potential benefits of conducting sessions without the patient. This decision-making process should be documented.

While the client is absent during these sessions, their perspectives and therapeutic goals should guide the therapeutic process. Collaboration before and after sessions is crucial for ensuring therapy aligns with the overall treatment plan.

90875—Under other psychiatric services or procedures:

CPT code 90875 falls under the category of "Other Psychiatric Services or Procedures" and is specifically used for billing for sessions that involve individual psychophysiological therapy incorporating biofeedback, with a typical session length of 20 to 30 minutes. This code represents a specialized treatment modality that combines psychotherapeutic techniques with biofeedback to address mental health issues like anxiety, stress-related disorders, and certain types of psychophysiological disorders.

Description and Application

  • Sessions aim to teach patients how to control physiological functions—such as heart rate, muscle tension, and skin temperature—using biofeedback equipment.
  • Biofeedback is a non-invasive method that uses electronic monitoring to convey information about physiological processes. Patients learn to adjust their physical responses through relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and other cognitive-behavioral strategies.
  • This code is often used for conditions where stress or anxiety worsens physiological symptoms, such as tension headaches, migraine, hypertension, and stress-related disorders. It's also applied to treat some conditions where the mind-body connection plays an important role.

Clinicians must maintain detailed records for sessions billed under code 90875, including the type of biofeedback used (e.g., electromyography, thermal biofeedback), the session duration, the specific issues addressed, and the patient's progress.

Coverage for psychophysiological therapy incorporating biofeedback can vary widely among insurance providers. It's important to verify coverage and obtain any necessary pre-authorizations. Documentation demonstrating the medical necessity of biofeedback therapy may be required for reimbursement. Billing assumes the use of specialized biofeedback equipment and that the clinician has the necessary training and qualifications to offer this therapy. Providers should be prepared to demonstrate their qualifications if requested by insurance companies.

90832—Psychotherapy, 30 minutes:

CPT code 90832 is designated for psychotherapy sessions that last 30 minutes. This code is part of a range of psychotherapy CPT codes used to bill for mental health services, and it is intended explicitly for shorter sessions. These sessions can be critical for certain patient populations or specific circumstances where shorter, more focused therapy is beneficial.

Description and Use

The key characteristic of code 90832 is the duration of the psychotherapy session, which is 30 minutes. This shorter session length can be suitable for patients with difficulty engaging in longer sessions due to concentration issues, age-related factors, or scheduling constraints.

Despite the shorter duration, sessions billed under code 90832 can address a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, stress management, and behavioral problems. The therapist tailors the session to achieve specific therapeutic goals within the constrained timeframe. Therapists may use various evidence-based approaches within these sessions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), brief therapy models, solution-focused techniques, or other modalities suited to short-term intervention.

For billing purposes, therapists must document the session's date, start and end times, the therapeutic approach used, and a brief summary of the therapy's focus and outcomes. This documentation should justify the medical necessity of the therapy session.

While most insurance plans cover 30-minute sessions, providers should verify coverage specifics with each patient's insurance. Some insurers may have preferences or restrictions regarding session lengths based on the diagnosed condition or treatment plan.

The use of code 90832 should fit logically within a patient's overall treatment plan. It might be used for ongoing therapy where shorter sessions are clinically indicated, for check-in sessions as part of a tapering strategy, or in combination with other therapeutic services.

The shorter duration encourages focused and goal-oriented therapy, potentially leading to efficient progress on specific therapeutic objectives. It can be particularly effective for brief interventions and as part of stepped care models.

Clinicians must plan strategically to make the most of the limited time in each session. This may involve prioritizing discussion topics, setting clear objectives for each session, and using effective therapeutic techniques in short durations.

In some cases, code 90832 sessions may be part of a broader treatment strategy that includes other services, such as medication management, longer psychotherapy sessions, or group therapy. Coordination of care is essential to ensure that the patient receives comprehensive treatment.

90838—Psychotherapy, 60 minutes, with E/M service:

CPT code 90838 is designated for individual psychotherapy sessions that last 60 minutes and are conducted in conjunction with an evaluation and management (E/M) service. This code reflects a comprehensive approach to patient care, combining psychotherapeutic interventions with assessing and managing the patient's physical health needs within the same session. Including E/M services indicates that the healthcare provider is addressing the patient's mental and physical health, acknowledging the interconnectedness of physical and mental health.

Description and Application

Code 90838 covers sessions that integrate a full hour of psychotherapy with an additional evaluation and management services component. These E/M services may include a physical health assessment, medication management, or other medical evaluations performed by a licensed healthcare professional to provide both psychotherapy and medical services.

The psychotherapy component addresses mental health issues, employing techniques and approaches suited to the patient's needs, such as CBT, psychodynamic therapy, or other modalities. The E/M component focuses on assessing, diagnosing, and managing the patient's physical health concerns related to or impacting their mental health.

This code is particularly relevant for patients with coexisting physical and mental health conditions, where the integration of psychotherapy and physical health evaluation is essential for effective treatment planning and management.

Documentation for sessions billed under 90838 must detail the session's psychotherapy and E/M components, including the duration, the issues addressed, the therapeutic interventions used, and the outcomes of the E/M assessment. The documentation should clearly justify the necessity of integrating E/M services with psychotherapy.

Coverage for code 90838 can vary, and providers should verify benefits and any pre-authorization requirements with each patient's insurance plan. The integrated nature of the service may affect how insurance policies apply deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance.

Note: Only providers licensed to perform psychotherapy, evaluation, and management services, such as psychiatrists or certain other medical professionals with mental health training, can bill using code 90838. Providers should ensure that their billing practices reflect their scope of practice and licensure.

Integrating psychotherapy and E/M services can improve the efficiency of care delivery, reducing the need for multiple appointments and enhancing coordination of care across different health domains.

Providers must strategically plan sessions to ensure that the psychotherapy and E/M components are adequately addressed within the allocated time. This may involve prioritizing issues based on clinical urgency and the patient's immediate needs.

Collaborating with other healthcare professionals may be necessary for providers who are not licensed to perform both components of code 90838. This approach requires clear communication and documentation to ensure seamless integration of care.

99404—Under preventive medicine, individual counseling services:

CPT code 99404 is used under the category of preventive medicine for individual counseling services. This code is specifically designated for intensive, preventive counseling sessions that typically last 45 minutes. These sessions are focused on risk factor reduction and behavior change related to lifestyle and health. The use of code 99404 reflects an approach to healthcare that emphasizes the prevention of health issues through counseling on diet, physical activity, substance abuse, and other lifestyle factors that can impact an individual's health.

Description and Application

  • Primary aim is to engage individuals in intensive counseling sessions that target lifestyle and behavior modifications to prevent disease and improve health. This includes addressing risk factors such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • May involve motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral strategies, and other evidence-based techniques to facilitate behavior change. The approach is tailored to the individual's readiness to change, specific risk factors, and personal health goals.
  • Applicable to individuals at risk for specific health conditions due to their lifestyle or behavior or those seeking preventive health advice to maintain or improve their health status.

Clinicians must document the session's content, the patient's risk factors, the counseling provided, and any follow-up plan. Documentation should clearly justify the preventive nature and intensity of the counseling service.

Insurance plans often cover preventive services without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States. However, coverage details and limitations can vary, so providers should verify specific plan benefits and any documentation requirements for reimbursement.

The 45-minute duration specified for code 99404 reflects the intensive nature of the counseling provided. Providers should consider the appropriate frequency of sessions based on the patient's needs, progress, and insurance coverage limitations.

Success in preventive counseling often relies on setting realistic, achievable goals through a collaborative process between the provider and the patient. This involves negotiating priorities and strategies that are both evidence-based and aligned with the patient's values and preferences. Preventive counseling is most effective as part of an ongoing care strategy that includes regular follow-up to assess progress, address challenges, and adjust goals as needed. Providers should plan for continuity of care and consider the optimal timing for follow-up sessions.

Mental Health Add-On CPT Codes

Mental health add-on CPT codes are used along with primary service codes to bill for additional, specific services provided during a mental health treatment session. These add-ons can capture complexities or additional services not included in the primary session's billing code.

Common Mental Health Add-On CPT Codes

Interactive Complexity (90785):

This code indicates sessions that involve specific communication challenges requiring additional skills and effort from the provider. These complexities may include managing maladaptive communication among participants, overcoming barriers to therapeutic interactions due to sensory or cognitive impairments, and addressing issues of diversity and language. When these complexities are present, it's added to primary psychotherapy codes (e.g., 90832, 90834, 90837) or diagnostic evaluation codes (90791, 90792). Documentation should detail the specific complexity addressed during the session.

Psychotherapy for Crisis (90839, 90840):

Though technically primary codes, 90839 and its add-on 90840 often function together. 90839 is used for the first 60 minutes of psychotherapy for a patient in crisis, while 90840 is the add-on code for each additional 30 minutes of therapeutic intervention. These codes should be used when a patient presents in an acute crisis with a high level of distress, requiring immediate and intensive therapeutic intervention. The provider must document the nature of the crisis and the necessity for extended psychotherapy time.

Developmental Testing; Limited (96112) and Extended (96113):

These codes are used for developmental testing with interpretation and report writing, covering both limited (96112) and extended (96113) sessions. These codes are often used in pediatric mental health settings to assess developmental milestones and identify any delays or disorders, added to evaluations when standardized developmental instruments are administered. Extensive documentation, including the instruments used and the findings, is required.

Health Behavior Assessment or Re-assessment (96156):

This code is for assessing or re-assessing a patient's psychological, social, and behavioral factors affecting physical health conditions and treatment. It can be used alongside other mental health service codes when performing assessments. Detailed documentation of the assessment findings and their implications for treatment planning is necessary.

Add-on codes must be used in conjunction with an appropriate primary service code. They cannot be billed independently. For all add-on codes, detailed documentation is vital. Providers must record the specifics of the additional services provided, including the duration, nature of the complexity or crisis, assessment tools used, and the impact on treatment planning. Always verify coverage for add-on services with the patient’s insurance provider, as not all plans reimburse for these codes.

Add-on codes capture the full scope of services provided in a mental health setting, allowing clinicians to bill accurately for complex sessions that require additional time, expertise, or resources beyond a standard therapy session or evaluation. Using these codes helps ensure that providers are compensated for the comprehensive care they offer, reflecting the true value of their work in supporting patients' mental health and well-being.

CPT Code Modifiers

CPT code modifiers are two-digit codes used in conjunction with mental health CPT codes to provide additional information about the service provided. They indicate specific circumstances that might affect how insurance companies pay for a service. For mental health services, these modifiers can denote the setting in which services are provided, whether an additional service was necessary, or if there are other special circumstances that insurers need to be aware of.

Common Mental Health CPT Code Modifiers

Modifier 95 - Telehealth Services:

Indicates a service was performed via telehealth. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of this modifier expanded significantly. Attached to psychotherapy, psychiatric evaluations, and other mental health services delivered through a telecommunication system. Documentation should include the technology used and confirm that the service met all requirements for telehealth as defined by the payer.

Modifier 22 - Increased Procedural Services:

Signifies that the work required to provide a service was substantially greater than typically required. Used when a session is significantly more complex or time-consuming than usual. This could apply in cases of severe crisis intervention or when dealing with complex comorbid conditions. Requires detailed documentation explaining the nature of the complexity and why additional time or effort was necessary.

Modifier 25 - Significant, Separately Identifiable Evaluation and Management Service:

Indicates that on the day a procedure or service was performed, the patient's condition required a significant, separately identifiable E/M service above and beyond the other service provided or beyond the usual care associated with the procedure that was performed. Often used in psychiatric settings when, for example, a medication management visit (which is an E/M service) occurs on the same day as a psychotherapy session. The documentation must clearly differentiate the services provided and justify the use of the modifier.

Modifier 59 - Distinct Procedural Service:

Indicates that procedures that are not normally reported together are distinct or independent from each other. This modifier can be used when different services are provided in the same session that are not typically performed together, such as a diagnostic evaluation and a therapeutic intervention. Documentation should clearly support the distinct nature of the services provided.

Modifier 33 - Preventive Service:

Used to identify certain screening and preventive services that are not subject to cost-sharing in most insurance plans. Relevant for preventive measures taken, such as screenings for depression during routine check-ups. Providers must ensure that the service meets the criteria for preventive care as defined by the patient’s insurance policy.

Correctly applying modifiers is crucial because misuse can lead to claim denials or audits. Providers should be familiar with the specific requirements and definitions for each modifier as defined by the payer.

Supporting documentation must be thorough and clearly justify the use of the modifier. It should detail the specific reasons why a modifier applies to the service provided.

Always verify with the patient's insurance company which modifiers are recognized and under what circumstances. Payer policies vary significantly, and what’s acceptable for one insurer may not be for another.

CPT code modifiers in mental health care ensure that providers are accurately reimbursed for their services, especially when they involve additional complexities or circumstances. By effectively communicating the specific nature of the care provided, modifiers bridge the gap between the clinical work performed and the billing process, supporting a more accurate and fair payment system for mental health services.


The top billed CPT codes for mental health billing in 2023 highlight the most common services offered within the mental health sector. These codes, essential for the billing process, reflect a range of services from diagnostic evaluations to various forms of psychotherapy and crisis intervention. Understanding these codes is very important for mental health professionals to make sure that the billing and reimbursement for their services is accurate. As the CPT codes in mental health services continue to evolve, staying informed about the most frequently used CPT codes helps practitioners manage the financial aspects of mental healthcare delivery smoothly.


All examples of mental health documentation are fictional and for informational purposes only.

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