HLA Testing for Transplant Histocompatibility Billing

Medicare covers the following solid organ transplants: kidney, heart, lung, heart/lung, liver, pancreas, pancreas/kidney and intestinal/multi-visceral. Medicare also covers stem cell transplants for certain conditions.

Claims for CPT codes used to describe HLA testing used for transplant histocompatibility testing will be denied. See below for further explanation on correct billing for these services. This does not refer to HLA testing for non-transplant services.

Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) testing for histocompatibility testing as part of transplantation are part of solid organ acquisition services.

Services for organ transplants must be billed as described in Medicare’s Internet Only Manual 100-04 (The Claims Processing Manual), Chapter 3 Section 90 in 42 CFR 412. The acquisition costs of hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs, pancreas, and intestines (or multivisceral organs) incurred by approved transplantation centers are paid on a reasonable cost basis by approved transplant centers; they are not billed as stand-alone laboratory services.

HLA typing is a component of the acquisition services for an allogeneic stem cell transplant as well. Payment for these acquisition services is included in the MS-DRG payment for the allogeneic stem cell transplant when the transplant occurs in the inpatient setting and in the OPPS APC payment for the allogeneic stem cell transplant when the transplant occurs in the outpatient setting. The Medicare contractor does not make separate payment for these acquisition services because hospitals may bill and receive payment only for services provided to the Medicare beneficiary who is the recipient of the stem cell transplant, and whose illness is being treated with the stem cell transplant. Unlike the acquisition costs of solid organs for transplant (e.g., hearts and kidneys), which are paid on a reasonable cost basis, acquisition costs for allogeneic stem cells are included in prospective payment.

Acquisition charges do not apply to autologous transplants.

HLA CPT codes unrelated to transplant testing have coverage as outlined in the following LCDs:

  • CPT 81381 — The policy that addresses limited coverage for HLA-B*15:02 genotype testing can be found here:
    Local Coverage Determination (LCD): MolDX: HLA-B*15:02 Genetic Testing (L36033)
  • CPT 81383 — The policy that addresses noncoverage of HLA-DQB1*06:02 typing for the diagnosis or management of narcolepsy can be found here:
    Local Coverage Determination (LCD): MolDX: HLA-DQB1*06:02 Testing for Narcolepsy (L36464)

Paragraph 1: The following codes are not covered