With the October 1 ICD-10 implementation deadline looming, most national commercial health insurers say they are ready for the code change, according to a survey from the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"It is important that the nation's largest private payers including UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield and Humana, are ready for the transition so payments to physicians are not delayed," according to AAFP survey results. Conspicuously absent from the survey was Cigna, which did not respond to a request for information.   

AAFP in early February sent the insurers a list of questions to gauge their level of preparedness. In response, payers "indicated that they are working to ensure success with their larger clients first--such as hospital systems and large practice groups--before moving on to readiness with smaller physician practices,” the association says.

In addition, AAFP reported that all surveyed payers "had set up ICD-10 preparedness pages on their individual websites specifically dedicated to assisting physicians.” And, “most importantly, that all of the health insurance companies who responded said they would be ready for the Oct. 1 deadline."

Aetna Senior Medical Director Christopher Jagmin, M.D., said his company began large-scale internal testing and targeted external testing in 2013 and would continue throughout 2014. Humana said it was developing a payer/provider collaboration ICD-10 testing program for physicians scheduled for rollout this spring.

A BCBS Association spokesperson said he expected each of the 37 independent locally-operated BCBS plans to participate in the “downstream testing” process. Jerry Frank, M.D., UHC's national medical director of physician engagement, said his company had performed extensive internal testing "to verify predictable processing outcomes" since March 2013 and would conclude testing in June.

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