Background: Although still investigational, psychedelic therapies appear poised to begin securing regulatory approval as medical treatments in the United States within the next 2 years. If approved, one of the most daunting barriers to equitable patient access to these novel treatments is their incorporation into the medical billing and coding system. Since specific billing codes for psychedelic therapy delivery do not exist, modification of existing codes or development of de novo codes will be necessary. This reality has created uncertainty about reimbursement and the financial future of psychedelic medicine.
Opinion: We argue that development of de novo billing codes in conjunction with the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Editorial Panel is the best approach for addressing psychedelic therapy reimbursement concerns. However, with no similar existing medical services to guide development, the potential need for multiple providers during dosing sessions, limited mental health care representation on the CPT Editorial Panel, and a number of misconceptions surrounding psychedelic therapy among critics, psychedelic therapy is particularly vulnerable to development of billing codes that undervalue the complexity of its delivery. With an industry-sponsored application for new CPT codes for “psychedelic drug monitoring services” soon to be reviewed by the CPT Editorial Panel, a critical step toward maximizing psychedelic therapy’s societal impact has been taken. However, many questions remain about whether these proposed codes will provide adequate flexibility for a treatment modality involving various drugs, therapeutic approaches, and patient monitoring strategies, as well as which types of providers will qualify to use them. Whether these proposed codes ultimately become the bedrock of billing for psychedelic therapy or future codes are developed to augment or replace them is not known, but it is a promising sign that efforts to create a robust medical billing and coding strategy for psychedelic medicine are now underway.