Milestone #1: Taxonomy Code for Health and Wellness Coaches
There are key milestones that professions pass through on the path to being incorporated into traditional systems like healthcare. For Health Coaches who want to focus on delivering their services within a healthcare setting, such as a physician's office as part of an integrative team to improve health outcomes, there’s great news.
The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) successfully applied for and was granted this taxonomy code for Health Coaches, effective April 1, 2021. In conjunction with insurance coverage, the creation of a health and wellness coach taxonomy code is an important step for the industry. This ten-digit taxonomy code will be used when Health Coaches apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI), an identification number required for healthcare providers to be considered Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant.
Neither the taxonomy code nor NPI are required to practice as a Health Coach, but they are required for those seeking work with any “healthcare provider, healthcare clearinghouse, or healthcare organization that conducts transactions or uses health records that fall under HIPAA regulations.” In addition, this NPI is required to use the Category III CPT codes approved last January.
With this barrier lifted, it signals the progression of the industry toward more regulation and compliance, which is necessary if Health Coaches are needed to bridge the healthcare gap to help reverse the global health crisis.
Milestone #2: Passage of American Rescue Plan Action of 2021 (H.R. 1319)
In this recent $1.9 trillion law, there are a number of provisions beneficial to our wellness community, such as:
- An increase of $328 million for mental health services and training, including:A $50 million increase in funding for certified community behavioral health clinics
- A $100 million increase for behavioral health workforce education and training
- Enhanced subsidies for Affordable Care Act health insurance purchases, with estimates that 1.7 million more people will be insured by 2022
- Funding for mental health and substance use disorders, including:Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act: This act includes funding for training, educational programs, and other initiatives designed to promote mental and behavioral wellness of healthcare workers. Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services must award grants to schools, state and local governments, or nonprofits to provide training for healthcare providers on suicide prevention, other behavioral health issues, and strategies to improve well-being. Healthcare providers prioritizing those in COVID-19 hot spots can also establish or expand programs to promote mental and behavioral health among healthcare providers involved with COVID-19 response efforts.
- Funding for community behavioral health services, such as the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Project Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education, youth suicide prevention, and certified community behavioral health clinics.
Why these milestones matter
Growing awareness of the work Health Coaches do and the impact they have on their communities is incredibly beneficial to the industry as a whole. Through the NBHWC’s work to create pathways for Health Coaches to more efficiently work alongside medical professionals and IIN’s continued advocacy for health coaching as a valuable and reimbursable health service, the health coaching profession is well on its way to becoming widely respected and appreciated.
Recognizing the need for more mental and emotional health support, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, is a step in the right direction. Health Coaches do more than just talk to their clients about food – they talk to them about primary food, an IIN core concept that refers to all the areas of our lives that nourish us off the plate. This increase in funding for clinics is great news for not just those who go to clinics for support, but also for Health Coaches looking for job opportunities. A growing healthcare system in all areas is positive for the health coaching industry!