• U.S. transitions to new health billing codes on Thursday
  • Billions of dollars in hospital, doctor payments at stake

There are 70,000 ways to get sick, hurt or mortally injured, and the U.S. is making them official.

On Thursday, U.S. hospitals, doctors and other care providers have to start using internationally developed standards called ICD-10 codes to bill government programs and private insurers in the nation’s $2.9 trillion-a-year health-care system. The codes cover everything from parrot bites to getting sucked into a jet engine.

Doctors have already begun mocking the diagnostic list, picking out the most absurd and arcane, such as Z63.1, “Problems in relationship with in-laws,” or V91.07XA, “Burn due to water skis on fire.” Yet for health-care providers who have payments at stake, the complex change is no joke.

This is but one reason why healthcare is becoming more costly.  It is also the reason why your physician, or physician assistant stares at the computer screen when you visit and NOT at you.   I bet you never thought that your doc went to school to learn how to check off boxes on a computer screen.  Art of healing?  Not so much.