Closer Look At IOP Billing For Behavioral Health Service Providers

Billing for IOP in a nutshell

When dealing with IOP billing, there are generally a few more requirements and consistent attention needed to make sure everyone involved is happy. From the patient being able to continue their treatment, to the doctors treating the patient, and of course, making sure the insurance companies are on board with allowing the overall treatment to happen.

Behavioral health levels of care

Behavioral health facilities essentially provide four types of services that insurance companies may consider reimbursement when treating a patient.

  1. Hospital-based inpatient programs, that require medical monitoring, nursing care, and other behavioral health services treated 24/7.
  2. Residential treatment programs, also known as RTC, which is more of a sub-acute facility based monitoring, offering other behavioral health services.
  3. Partial hospital programs, better known as PHP, providing services in an ambulatory setting, and generally requires 20 hours per week.
  4. Intensive outpatient programs, known as IOP, where the patient is provided with behavioral health services for at least 9 to 19 hours a week for adults, and for children and adolescents at least six hours is generally acceptable.

There are so many different modalities and service types when billing for IOP, compared to inpatient and hospital-based programs, which in turn makes it more challenging when trying to get reimbursement.

Similar Article: The Secret To Getting Reimbursed Quicker- Claims Follow Up

Typical services covered in IOPs

If a facility is offering IOP services, they must be licensed at the state level and usually will treat substance abuse and most mental health disorders. Most facilities will set up a weekly schedule for IOP patients, consisting of meeting at least two hours per day, and from three to five days a week.

Typical services generally covered are:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Family psychotherapy
  • Group psychotherapy
  • Psycho-educational services
  • Medical monitoring

CMS guidelines required in order for the facility to be eligible for reimbursement for IOP services are:

HCPCS and revenue codes for IOPs

IOP billing codes may differ depending on what the patient’s diagnosis is, and what services are provided primarily either for substance abuse or for mental health issues. Also, another thing to remember when billing for IOP services, if the patient has a dual-diagnosis for both substance abuse and mental health, you can generally only bill for one IOP session per day, even if both were being addressed in therapy. It is always good to document that information for the insurance company, but beware to not submit duplicate claims, as they’ll inevitably get denied and or delay payment.

  • S9480/0905: The per diem outpatient IOP code for psychiatric issues which may include eating disorders, is S9480, and most times is always paired with revenue code 0905. This is generally used for private payers, as Medicare does not recognize these codes.
  • H0015/0906: The per diem outpatient IOP code for all chemical dependency is H0015, and is always paired with revenue code 0906.

Similar Article: 5 Insurance Billing Errors Drug Treatment Centers Can Avoid

Pre-authorization, clinical and IOP all go hand in hand

Just like with all inpatient level care services, most insurance companies require all IOP services obtain a pre-authorization before reimbursement is complete. Although IOP, technically provides only two to three hours per day, most payers require at least 180 minutes of active therapy per day in order to reimburse the per diem rates.

This is why I stated earlier, that clinical documentation is a key element in supporting the full 180 minutes per day, otherwise you’ll end up with a denied claim. A concurrent authorization is generally required to continue to treat the patient and sometimes referred to as short-term interventions, where all clinical and progress of the patient is considered and decided for continued authorization.

We hope this was a helpful and informative article about IOP in particular. If you have any questions about IOP billing and how to maximize your reimbursement for behavioral health services or any other billing concern, please feel free to contact us via email, or check out a ton of extra billing resources here.

21 thoughts on “Closer Look At IOP Billing For Behavioral Health Service Providers

  1. I am trying to bill for iop for mental health. Allowable rate came back $37 from BC. I used code S9480 and 1unit. This doesn’t seem right for 4 hrs per day. Any advice on how to bill and get paid correctly is very much appreciated. We just started the iop program.
    Thank you

  2. Can all IOP services be billed under the Physician that oversee the program or does that provider have to be present during each of the services. Group, Individual etc

    1. Hey great question!

      IOP can be billed under the medical director or whoever is running the services as long as it is a LCSW or higher. However we are starting to see some changes in some plans not allowing the NPI of the physician that oversees the IOP. It can change from plan to plan.

      Thanks, let us know any other questions!

  3. Can we bill for other services like Individual Therapy or Crisis Therapy on days that the patient is not attending the IOP session?

  4. We are billing IOP but sometimes the patients don’t complete the 3 times a week treatment. They may only get in 2 days that week. Can i still bill IOP if we dont have at least 9 hours for that week?

  5. That is a good question and something that happens often. It really depends on the carrier/plan criteria for IOP. However, normally plans are based on the program, not the patient attendance. The program runs 3 days per week for 3 hour sessions… there will always be intermittent billing with clients missing days. This is why authorization approvals may be for 13 visits in a 60 day window.

  6. Hi, I’ve been billing out our IOP claims on a HCFA1500 form, but I just got a denial from Blue Cross stating that all IOP claims have to be billed on a UB04 claim form. Is this correct? I’ve had no problem getting paid from Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, United Health Care. Blue Cross is the only insurance company saying this.

    1. Yeah we see this all the time with BCBS. They go back and forth on IOP in using a 1500 or a UB04. Sometimes the only way is to submit the UB04 and see if that pays or if you get some other erroneous type of denial.

  7. Can a newly-established IOP / PHP bill insurance companies for services prior to being accredited by CARF or Joint Commission (i.e., will insurance companies contract with an IOP / PHP before it’s been operational for the required 6 month term before a CARF survey is possible)?

    1. Hello there and great question.

      Yes the majority insurance companies do not require accreditation on an out of network basis. It just depends on the plan so you would need to check up front. You can also get a temporary approval if insurance requires it. Will you be trying to go in-network?

  8. Hi! We are trying to determine coding that would indicate a difference between general MH services and ED services since our contracts reimburse differently for each of the lines of service. Are there additional codes that can be used for MH or are the alternatives all indicative of substance abuse care?

    1. This is a great question that has some variables for an answer. We help a lot of ED facilities. Someone from the team will reach out via email.


  9. I understand that IOP Programs can be individual or group. However, our particular IOP Program is provided through group sessions, 3 hours per day @ 3 times per week. Due to Covid, our caseload has decreased, meaning we currently only have a few patients enrolled in our IOP Program. Can H0015, IOP, be billed if only one person was present in the session?

    In regards to your article above noting services typically covered in IOPs, can an individual or family session be billed on the same day as an IOP session, if the session was separate from the IOP session?

    1. This depends. Is this primary substance abuse or mental health?

      H0015- Alcohol and/or drug services; intensive outpatient (treatment program that operates at least 3 hours/day and at least 3 days/week and is based on an individualized treatment plan), including assessment, counseling; crisis intervention, and activity therapies or education

      S9480 would be for IOP depending on DX codes.

      Please send text t0 541-ASK-AXIS for further clarification.

      1. Because I previously replied via email, I wanted to add it to this discussion page.

        As I stated in the reply, the service is for SA IOP services, billed using H0015 or Rev. Code 0906 for non-Medicaid payers.

        The answer I received was that H0015 can be billed no matter how many people attend the session.

        Also, there was a 2nd question to my original inquiry:
        If a patient is enrolled in SA IOP, can a separate individual or family session (H0004 or H0005) be billed on the same day as an IOP session (H0015)?

        Thank you!

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