CPT Code 99304: Guide to Skilled Nursing Facility Visits

CPT code 99304 is an essential code used to document and report skilled nursing facility visits. These visits play a crucial role in the evaluation and management of patients in SNFs and NFs. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of CPT code 99304, including its description, key components, time requirements, modifiers, and regulatory considerations. Whether you are a healthcare provider, coder, or billing professional, understanding this code is essential for accurate documentation, billing, and reimbursement.

1. Understanding CPT Code 99304:

   CPT code 99304 is used to report a comprehensive initial evaluation and management visit in a skilled nursing facility. This code is specific to new or established patients and involves a thorough assessment of the patient's condition, medical history, and care needs. The visit typically includes a face-to-face encounter with the patient, as well as a detailed review of medical records and relevant documentation.

2. Key Components of CPT Code 99304:

   CPT code 99304 requires the healthcare provider to perform several key components during the visit. These components include:

   a) Comprehensive history taking: The provider collects a detailed account of the patient's medical history, including present illness, past medical, family, and social history.

   b) Comprehensive examination: A comprehensive physical examination is conducted, covering various body systems and evaluating the patient's overall health status.

   c) Medical decision making: The provider analyzes the collected information, makes a diagnosis, develops a treatment plan, and coordinates care with other healthcare professionals involved in the patient's care.

   d) Counseling and education: The provider may spend time counseling the patient and their family on matters such as managing chronic conditions, medication adherence, and lifestyle modifications.

3. Time Requirements for CPT Code 99304:

   CPT code 99304 has specific time requirements associated with it. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), the typical time spent on this visit is approximately 45 minutes. However, it's important to note that the time spent can vary based on the complexity of the patient's condition and the required medical decision making.

4. Modifiers and CPT Code 99304:

   Modifiers play a crucial role in accurately reporting and documenting skilled nursing facility visits. For CPT code 99304, one important modifier to be aware of is the "-AI" modifier. This modifier is used to identify the principal physician of record who is overseeing the patient's care in a SNF setting. It helps differentiate the primary physician's services from other healthcare professionals involved in the patient's treatment.

5. Distinction between Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) and Nursing Facilities (NFs):

   It's essential to understand the difference between SNFs and NFs when reporting CPT code 99304. SNFs provide a higher level of care and rehabilitation services compared to NFs. SNFs are governed by specific regulations outlined in the Medicare Statute, which mandate physician visits. On the other hand, NFs do not have the same regulatory requirements for physician visits. Understanding this distinction is crucial for accurate coding and billing.

6. Optimizing Reimbursement and Compliance:

   To ensure appropriate reimbursement and compliance, healthcare providers and coding professionals must stay updated on the latest coding guidelines, documentation requirements, and regulatory changes. Regular training, continuing education, and utilization of reliable coding resources are essential for accurate coding, minimizing denials, and maximizing reimbursement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1: Can CPT code 99304 be used for subsequent visits in a skilled nursing facility?

A1: No, CPT code 99304 is specifically for the initial comprehensive evaluation and management visit in a skilled nursing facility. For subsequent visits, different codes such as CPT codes 99305, 99306, 99307, 99308, or 99309 may be appropriate, depending on the complexity and level of service provided.

Q2: Are there any restrictions on delegating the initial comprehensive visit in a skilled nursing facility?

A2: Yes, according to the Medicare regulations, the initial comprehensive visit in a skilled nursing facility cannot be delegated by the physician. This visit must be conducted by the physician personally to accurately assess the patient's condition and develop an appropriate care plan.


CPT code 99304 plays a vital role in documenting and reporting comprehensive initial evaluation and management visits in skilled nursing facilities. Understanding the key components, time requirements, modifiers, and regulatory considerations associated with this code is crucial for accurate coding, billing, and reimbursement. By staying updated on coding guidelines, documenting services thoroughly, and leveraging the appropriate modifiers, healthcare providers and coding professionals can optimize reimbursement while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Remember, accurate coding and comprehensive documentation are essential for providing quality patient care, optimizing reimbursement, and complying with healthcare regulations.


[1]. ASC Billing Code. (2016, June 16). SNF Visit Basic CPT Code 99304 and 99306. Retrieved from 

[2]. AAPC. (n.d.). CPT® Code 99304 - New or Established Patient - Codify by AAPC. Retrieved from 

[3]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Nursing Facility Services (Codes 99304 - 99318). Retrieved from