January 28, 2020
CMS began collecting data on social determinants of health (SDOH) through the use of z-codes in 2016. The agency reported that among 33.7 million total Medicare FFS beneficiaries in 2017, approximately 1.4% had claims with Z codes. SDOH indicators are widely recognized as important predictors in clinical care and positive conditions are associated with improved patient outcomes and reduced costs.
The 5 most utilized Z codes in 2017 from Medicare FFS claims were:
Of the 467,136 Medicare FFS beneficiaries with Z code claims, 334,373 individuals (72%) had hypertension and 248,726 individuals (53%) had depression.
Z codes did not exist prior to the implementation of the ICD-10-CM codes in 2015. Their precursors in ICD-9 were V codes.