Health and wellness coaching has hit an important professional milestone. The AMA has officially recognized the role of health and wellness coaches as nonphysician healthcare professionals by approving procedural codes for tracking health and well-being coaching services. This means that health and wellness coaches who are certified by either the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) or the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing Inc. are recognized as Category III healthcare professionals.

Reimbursement of Category III codes by payers became optional starting on January 1, 2020. The Category III Health and Well-Being Coaching Codes include
• 0591T Health and Well-Being Coaching face-to-face; individual, initial assessment;
• 0592T individual, follow-up session, at least 30 minutes; and
• 0593T group (two or more individuals), at least 30 minutes.

NBHWC and the Department of Veterans Affairs requested the codes. The VA intends to track coaching services delivered by VA-trained “Whole Health” coaches, who help veterans get healthier and better manage chronic issues like diabetes, pain and depression.

Category III recognition is an important first step in the process toward eventual reimbursement for coaching services. It is important for qualified coaches to use the new Category III codes: With or without reimbursement, usage provides data needed to receive Category I approval. Most payers wait for Category I approval before providing reimbursement.

It remains to be seen whether the standards will be broadened to accept coaches certified by other organizations. Watch for developments in this area.

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