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  • Travel Medicine: Frequently Asked Questions

    What services are typically included in a travel medicine visit?

    Does private insurance cover travel medicine services?  

    How do you code and bill for travel medicine services?  

    How much do travel medicine clinics typically charge when insurance is not a factor? 

    Where can I find additional travel medicine information? 

    1. What services are typically included in a travel medicine visit?

    The travel medicine services an infectious diseases practice offers can vary widely depending on insurance coverage, patient mix (business or private), marketing strategy, and your level of commitment to developing this portion of your practice. Travel patients are typically advised on proper hygiene, foodborne contaminates in foreign countries, and disease prevention strategies. Many travel medicine clinics often supplement these education/counseling sessions with informational pamphlets or brochures that travel patients can review on their own.

    Additionally, travel clinics usually offer most or all of the vaccinations that might be necessary for safe travel to the country (or region) a patient is visiting. A sample list of vaccinations offered by travel medicine clinics is included below:

     

    Hepatitis A and B

    Measles

    Poliomyelitis

    Japanese Encephalitis

    Diphtheria

    Mumps

    Tetanus

    Typhoid Fever

    Rabies

    Measles

    Shingles

    Yellow Fever

    Meningitis

    Pneumonia

    Rubella

    Varicella

    2. Does private insurance cover travel medicine services?

    Coverage of travel medicine services by payers is still sporadic and varies by plan. Travel medicine is fully covered by some insurance plans, while others will only cover a limited number of travel medicine services, if any. Patients should contact their insurance carriers to determine if travel medicine services are covered by their plan.
     

    Many travel clinics have opted not to participate with insurance carriers and, instead, only accept payment at the time of service.

    3. How do you code and bill for travel medicine services?

    There are several coding and billing options available to travel medicine clinic. Some insurance plans will allow you to bill new (99201-99205) and established (99211-99215) patient E&M service for travel medicine visits. Other plans might allow you to bill outpatient consultation E/M service codes (99241-99245) if patients have referrals from their primary care physicians.

    As an alternative to E&M service codes, which might require symptoms or diagnosis, some travel medicine clinics are billing preventive counseling services (99402-99404). However, some insurance plans do not cover these services or only cover a limited number of preventive counseling services per year. Vaccinations should be billed using the appropriate vaccine product and administration codes. Please contact individual insurance carriers for coding/billing instructions specific to their plans. 

    4. How much do travel medicine clinics typically charge patients when insurance is not a factor?

    The amount travel medicine clinics charge for their services depends on several variables, including their patient mix (business or private), and travel destination.

    5. Where can I find additional travel medicine information?

    In 2006, IDSA developed Travel Medicine Guidelines as a service to clinical practitioners. IDSA’s Practice Management Forms and Documents webpage includes travel medicine resources that have been developed by infectious diseases practices. You can find additional travel medicine information through the International Society of Travel Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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