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Monday Jul 06, 2020

New CPT code for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) antigen testing

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently announced a new CPT code for reporting antigen testing of patients suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The new code is intended for accurate reporting and tracking of antigen tests using an immunofluorescent or immunochromatographic technique for the detection of biomolecules produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The new CPT code and its descriptor are:

87426 Infectious agent antigen detection by immunoassay technique (e.g., enzyme immunoassay [EIA], enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA], immunochemiluminometric assay [IMCA]), qualitative or semiquantitative, multiple-step method; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (e.g., SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19])


Antigen testing is designed to be quicker and simpler than other tests for the coronavirus and can be conducted at the point of care. As Food and Drug Administration officials explained in a recent statement,(www.fda.gov) "antigen tests are also important in the overall response against COVID-19 as they can generally be produced at a lower cost than PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests and once multiple manufacturers enter the market, can potentially scale to test millions of Americans per day due to their simpler design, helping our country better identify infection rates closer to real time."

CPT Assistant, the official source for CPT coding guidance, has issued a special edition with advice(www.ama-assn.org) on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus laboratory testing, including antigen testing. For more information, you can also see the AMA press release here(www.ama-assn.org) or visit the AMA website(www.ama-assn.org).

— Kent Moore, Senior Strategist for Physician Payment at the American Academy of Family Physicians

Posted at 03:00PM Jul 06, 2020 by Kent Moore

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