Updated 12 February 2014

The importance of ICD-10 codes

One code that appears on a healthcare provider account is ICD-10 codes. These codes are used to inform medical schemes about the conditions the members were treated for.


One of the types of codes that appear on healthcare provider accounts is known as ICD-10 codes. These codes are used to inform medical schemes about what conditions their members were treated for so that claims can be settled correctly.

ICD-10 stands for International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (10th revision). It is a coding system developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), that translates the written description of medical and health information into standard codes, e.g. J03.9 is an ICD-10 code for acute tonsillitis (unspecified) and G40.9 denotes epilepsy (unspecified).

Why you need ICD-10 codes
When you join a medical scheme, you choose and pay for a particular benefit option. This benefit option contains a basket of services that often has limits on the health services that will be paid for. Because ICD-10 codes provide accurate information on the condition you have been diagnosed with, these codes help the medical scheme to determine what benefits you are entitled to and how these benefits could be paid.

This becomes very important if you have a PMB condition, as these can only be identified by the correct ICD-10 codes. Therefore, if the incorrect ICD-10 codes are provided, your PMB-related services might be paid from the wrong benefit (such as from your medical savings account), or it might not be paid at all if your day-to-day or hospital benefits limits have been exhausted.

ICD-10 codes must also be provided on medicine prescriptions and referral notes to other healthcare providers (e.g. pathologists and radiologists) who are not all able to make a diagnosis. Therefore, they require the diagnosis information from your referring doctor so that their claim to your medical scheme can also be paid out of the correct pool of money.

Important note
Medical schemes are obliged by law to treat information about members’ conditions with the utmost confidentiality. They are not allowed to disclose even ICD-10 codes to any other party, including employers or family members.

(Information from the Council for Medical Schemes)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.