Update: New Cigna Policy Requires Additional Documentation for Same-Day Procedures
By Alisa Pierce

Despite medicine’s pushback, Cigna plans to move forward with burdensome billing policy requiring additional documentation for routine, minor procedure claims starting in June.* 

Evaluation and management (E/M) services provided on the same day as a minor procedure (such as those with a zero or 10-day post operation period) typically have been included as part of the service. Starting June 11, however, Cigna will start requiring separate supporting documentation every time a physician bills for that minor procedure using modifier 25.  

That includes supplying medical records and “a cover sheet indicating the office notes support the use of modifier 25 appended to the E/M code,” according to Cigna’s first announcement of the policy last year. 

The claim will be denied if a physician fails to show a significant and separately identifiable service was performed. 

Medicine won a delay of the policy that was supposed to start Aug. 13, 2022, after the American Medical Association (AMA) and the California Medical Association (CMA) voiced several concerns including a likely increase in administrative burden and cost for practices due to duplicate requests and a lack of clarity on which Cigna health plans would be impacted. Medicine also expressed these challenges would not only harm patients’ experience, but also disincentivize physicians from providing unscheduled services. 

As most practices use modifier 25 throughout the day, the additional documentation requirement could force practices to send several medical records daily, potentially contributing to physician burnout, says Odessa allergist Vivek Rao, MD. 

“So many specialties use 25 modifiers on a frequent basis, and this update is only going to delay processing claims,” he said. “My fear is that this is going to create a backlog where practices must wait to get paid for providing care to patients. Then, physicians are going to have to make some difficult business decisions, like not accepting new patients.” 

With Cigna proceeding with the policy, the Texas Medical Association is working with AMA, other state medical societies, and national physician societies to address the issue. TMA will be meeting with each major insurance company in the coming months to discuss this and other administrative burdens and payment delays that impact physicians’ ability to care for their patients. 

With the change set to take effect May 23, TMA experts recommend physicians familiarize themselves with modifier 25, which is used: 

  • To indicate that on the day a procedure was performed, the patient’s condition required a significant, separately identifiable E/M service (such as in the case of a new or distinct problem) beyond other services provided by a physician or health care professional; 
  • To report an E/M service on the same day as a minor procedure when the separate/significant service provided is above and beyond the usual pre- and/or post-operative care associated with the procedure; and  
  • To report an E/M service on the same day as other services such as preventive care, physicals, or an annual wellness visit when a patient has a “sick/injury” concern that is separately addressed at the same visit. 

Documentation must support the separate service was above and beyond the usual pre- and/or post- operative care or preventive service requirements. 

TMA staff say practices can ensure they are documenting modifier 25 claims correctly by taking these steps: 

  • Always append the modifier 25 to the E/M code (reported to the appropriate level), never to the procedure code. 
  • Don’t report a separate E/M service for a planned procedure.    
  • If a new problem needs only a cursory review, it will not qualify as a separate E/M service. 

Have questions or concerns? Call TMA’s billing and coding hotline at (512) 370-1414 to speak directly with one of TMA’s certified coders or visit TMA’s Reimbursement, Review, and Resolution Service webpage for more information. 

*Texas Medicine Today originally reported an effective date of May 25 but has since learned that applies to all other states. Texas' effective date is June 11.


Last Updated On

April 03, 2023

Originally Published On

March 29, 2023

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Alisa Pierce

Reporter, Division of Communications and Marketing

(512) 370-1469
Alisa Pierce

Alisa Pierce is a reporter for Texas Medicine. After graduating from Texas State University, she worked in local news, covering state politics, public health, and education. Alongside her news writing, Alisa covered up-and-coming artists in Central Texas and abroad as a music journalist. As a Texas native, she enjoys capturing the landscape on her film camera while hiking her way across the Lonestar State.

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