HCPCS Coding Information

HCPCS pronounced "hick-picks" is the acronym for Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System which was first developed in 1983 by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), now known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The system was to provide a uniform system for coding of procedures, services and supplies. CMS still maintains the intention of HCPCS is to:

  • Meet the operational needs of Medicare and Medicaid
  • Coordinate government programs by uniform application of CMS policies
  • Allow providers and suppliers to communicate their services in a consistent manner
  • Ensure the validity of profiles and fee schedules through standardized coding
  • Enhance medical education and research by providing a vehicle for local, regional, and national utilization comparisons

Each of the three HCPCS levels is a unique coding system. HCPCS Level 1 is the American Medical Association’s Physicians Current Procedure Terminology (CPT®).

HCPCS Level II National Codes were developed because CPT® codes did not cover certain medical services and supplies. These codes consist of one alphabetic character, a letter between A-V, followed by four digits. They are grouped by the type of service or supply. CMS updates the codes annually with input from private insurance companies. There are also quarterly updates which include codes changes and deletions. These codes are required for reporting medical services and supplies provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients as well as private insurance companies.

HCPCS Level III codes were the third level developed to maintain individual state Medicare carrier specific codes. These were eliminated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and should not be used after December 31, 2003.


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