RVUs and you!

Relative value units (RVUs) are used more and more by health systems for determining physician compensation. The College’s Advocacy Council has seen an increase in questions on how to determine RVUs for services allergists provide. RVUs were developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about 30 years ago in response to congressional legislation to establish the relative value of physician services. There are three components to RVUs:

  • Physician work
  • Practice expense
  • Professional liability insurance

Of most interest to allergists are the physician work RVUs because this is what health systems and employers often use in their compensation plans. The American Medical Association’s Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) proposes RVUs based on specialty society surveys and recommendations to CMS for consideration, but CMS must approve them.

CMS publishes the RVUs for each code annually on its website. The current RVUs for 2018 are listed by CPT code in column F in these downloadable spreadsheets - get one on specific allergy codes or view RVUs for all CPT codes. The total non-facility (the physician’s office; not a hospital or other institution) lists the total RVUs (column K - all three components) for the service performed. The RVUs are multiplied by the dollar conversion factor and geographic adjustment factor to obtain the reimbursement for each area of the country.

The RVUs are subject to revision each year. The 2019 RVUs will be available around November 1, 2018. The Advocacy Council will let you know of any changes to the 2019 RVUs and reimbursement compared to 2018 – we have you covered.

Advocacy Issue: 
Billing, Coding & Payments