Anesthesia Claims and Reimbursement

Professional anesthesia claims must be submitted on an appropriate CMS-1500 form, using the applicable Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) anesthesia codes. If applicable, the claim must also be billed with the appropriate physical-status modifier and, if needed, other optional modifiers. An anesthesia claim must specify who provided the anesthesia. In cases where a portion of the anesthesia service is provided by an anesthesiologist and a nurse anesthetist performs the remainder, the claim must identify exactly which services were provided by each provider. This distinction may be made by the use of modifiers.

Anesthesia Rates

TRICARE calculates anesthesia reimbursement rates using the number of time units, the Medicare Relative Value Units (RVUs), and the anesthesia conversion factor.

Calculating Anesthesia Reimbursement

The following formula is used to calculate the TRICARE anesthesia reimbursement:

(Time Units + RVUs)
Conversion Factor

Base Unit—TRICARE anesthesia reimbursement is determined by calculating a base unit, derived from the Medicare Anesthesia Relative Value Guide, plus an amount for each unit of time the anesthesiologist is in attendance (in the beneficiary’s presence). A base unit includes reimbursement for:

  • Preoperative examination of the beneficiary
  • Administration of fluids and/or blood products incident to the anesthesia care
  • Interpretation of non-invasive monitoring (e.g., electrocardiogram, temperature, blood pressure, oximetry, capnography, and mass spectrometry)
  • Determination of the required dosage/method of anesthesia
  • Induction of anesthesia
  • Follow-up care for possible postoperative effects of anesthesia on the beneficiary

Services not included in the base value include: placement of arterial, central venous, and pulmonary artery catheters and the use of transesophageal echocardiography. When multiple surgeries are performed, only the RVUs for the primary surgical procedure are considered, while the time units should include the entire surgical session.

Note: This does not apply to continuous epidural analgesia.

Time Unit: Time units are measured in 15-minute increments, and any fraction of a unit is considered a whole unit. Anesthesia time starts when the anesthesiologist begins to prepare the beneficiary for anesthesia care in the operating room or in an equivalent area. It ends when the anesthesiologist is no longer in personal attendance and the beneficiary may be safely placed under post-anesthesia supervision. Providers must indicate the number of time units in column 24G of the CMS-1500 form.

Conversion Factor—The sum of the time units and RVUs is multiplied by a conversion factor. Conversion factors differ between physician and non-physician providers and vary by state, based on local wage indexes.

For more specific information on anesthesia reimbursement calculation and methodologies, refer to TRICARE Reimbursement Manual.

Anesthesia Procedure Pricing Calculator

For an anesthesia rate calculator, go to the TRICARE Web site and follow the online prompts.

Back to Top

Created: February 22, 2012