Phone consultations with doctors could become costly

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

Officials at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center say telephone consultations with doctors are now being coded for billing.

Patients who speak with doctors over the telephone will not always be
billed, but the longevity of the conversation and subject matter of the
call will be the final determinant.

The new charges will be coded on patients’ bills beginning with the
numbers 99371, 99372 or 99373. Any of these charges which appear on
billing statements will only be incurred when doctors initiate the

“This will involve situations when doctors made contact by telephone
with a patient, and only privileged providers will be able to bill,”
said Maj. James Hansmann, Chief of LRMC’s Patient Accountablility
Branch. “The people who initiate the call must be doctors, physician’s
assistants or nurse practioners. And this is not to say that every time
a patient talks with his or her doctor on the phone, that there will be
a bill.”

Patients who get simple instructions on appointment times or
prescription refills will not be charged any new fees. The charges
would come into place if there is actual advice or consultation
information discussed regarding a patient’s condition.

“TRICARE did not do this in the past,” said Tanja Jagusch, chief of
billing in LRMC’s  Patient Administration office. “Sometimes it
takes a lot of time for doctors to finally reach patients and in that
time, they are taken away from seeing other patients.”

The charges are expected to be well under $100 and usually in the range
of $45 to $65, depending on what level of intricacy is involved with
the call.

“The CHAMPUS maximum allowable charges (CMAC) set the price range and
there are three different levels of calls which are being considered
for billing,” Major Hansmann said. “The potential charges will affect
all pay patients excluding active duty and retirees or dependents not
covered under another health plan. A lot of people will be affected by

More information can be found on the Internet at or by contacting a
medical practitioner.