Published: February 12, 2021
The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) announced that as of April 1, 2021, health and wellness coaches will have a unique taxonomy code. This new taxonomy code marks an important step forward for the profession, demonstrating the important role health and wellness coaches have in healthcare, and moving toward being able to bill for insurance in the future. Health coaching is becoming a mainstream health service, and all trained health coaches stand to benefit from this milestone achievement for the industry.
What is a taxonomy code?
Taxonomy codes are the primary components of the Health Care Provider Taxonomy Code Set used by healthcare providers to self-identify their specialty based on which code matches their specialization best. A taxonomy code is a unique, 10-character code set that is structured into three levels: Provider Type, Classification, and Area of Specialization. Taxonomy codes are maintained by the National Uniform Claim Committee (NUCC), a voluntary organization that was created to develop a standardized data set for use by the non-institutional health care community to transmit claim and encounter information to and from all third-party payers. It is chaired by the American Medical Association (AMA), with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as a critical partner.
Starting April 1, 2021, healthcare providers will now be able to use the taxonomy code “171400000X” to identify that a health and wellness coach is working in a medical practice. Providers utilizing health coaches to deliver patient services can now use the taxonomy code when they bill for their services—thus, working toward the goal of health and wellness coaches billing for insurance.
How does it change the way coaches work?
As a health coach, you will be part of a profession that is recognized as legitimate by the major organizations in the healthcare field, including the AMA. This also means more opportunities for health and wellness coaches to get hired by medical practices. The taxonomy codes will be used when applying for a National Provider Identifier (NPI), which is a unique identification number for covered healthcare providers. NBC-HWC coaches will need this NPI number if they work for a healthcare organization or in partnership with a physician. These NPI numbers are created to improve electronic communication of health records that fall under The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.
Health and wellness coaches are trained in motivational theories, strategies, and communication techniques. Coaches partner with clients to determine their goals, tap into their intrinsic motivation, and build skills to create sustainable change for improved health and well-being. They help clients use self-discovery or active learning processes with content education to work toward their goals, and self-monitor behaviors to increase accountability. This new taxonomy code further validates health and wellness coaching as an integral part of the healthcare system.
What does this mean for the future of the health coaching industry?
The new taxonomy code, as well as the AMA’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, will play an important role in the growth of our field. We anticipate that the new data from these codes will continue to elevate the field, demonstrating the efficacy of health and wellness coaching, and setting the stage for health coaching to become a billable service for insurance in the future.
Health coaches are creating a new work flow within medical practices, establishing health and wellness coaching as a valuable component of healthcare. This means further growth of opportunities for the amazing coaches in our field, and for those considering becoming health coaches!
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