Error Codes: Problems with referral billing numbers

Error codes referral billing numbersA number of OHIP billing codes require a referring physician’s billing number to get paid. This is the case for consultations (including telephone and e-consults) & laboratory and certain diagnostic procedures. The latter include any procedure that has a technical and professional component in the Schedule of Benefits, such as ECGs, spirometry, and angiograms to name a few. This month we’ll look at error report rejection codes that indicate problems with the referring physician’s billing number.

What’s in a MOH provider number?

Provider numbers are unique 6 digit numbers that identify physicians and other health professionals such as nurse practitioners to the MOH. These billing numbers generally begin with 0, 1, or 2 for the greater portion of Ontario’s doctors, while other health care practitioners have billing numbers in the ranges specified below.

Billing numbers Specialties
400000’s Dentists/Dental surgeons
600000’s Naturopaths
700000 – 722899 Midwives
722900 – 799999 Nurse Practitioners
800000 – 829999 Optometrists
830000 – 839984 Chiropractors
900100 – 900600 Alternate Health Care Professions

Error codes

AC4 – Unacceptable referral number

One of the four error codes that come up is AC4. This indicates that the billing number of the referring physician is missing or unacceptable. Unacceptable provider numbers here mean that the billing number doesn’t match the category of billing code it was submitted with. For instance, a midwife can only be used as a referral for billing codes such as C813 or C815, not other consultations.

EQ6 – Incorrect referral number

Whereas AC4 was an ‘unacceptable’ number, EQ6 usually means you have a data entry error on your hands. The billing number submitted does not match any provider number currently registered with the Ministry of Health. Check your source for the correct billing number, and resubmit.

ARF – Missing billing number

If you’re billing a code that requires a referring physician – such as a consultation, or a procedure like spirometry or imaging – you must add the 6 digit referring physician billing number to the claim. Most billing software systems force you to add the necessary information, but the odd claim can get by without a referring provider number. These claims will come back ARF. Solution? Add billing number, stir, and resubmit.

ERF – Billing number ineligible for referrals

Here’s a bit of a different beast. ERFs mean the billing number you used is correct, but that physician is either deceased or no longer eligible to practice in Ontario. You’ll have to bill a different code here; in the case of consultations, bill down to an assessment code which pays less and doesn’t require the referring doctor.

V09 – Invalid referral number

V09’s pop up when the provider number doesn’t meet the required criteria. For example, if you submit a 5 digit billing number (omitting the initial zero), your claim will get kicked out with this rejection code. It will also come up if you’ve used a Dentist, Chiropractor or Naturopath’s billing number as a referral (see above for range of billing numbers).

Good luck working through your error reports! If you have questions on codes we haven’t covered so far, feel free to request a blog, or have a peek at the other blogs in our Error Code series.

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