Medical Billing and Coding, A Definitive Guide

medical billing and codingMedical billing and coding is among the latest professions in the healthcare industry. If you are aspiring to make your mark in this highly competitive industry, this is one of the most promising professions. Unlike the many medical professionals like pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and technicians that saturate the market, there are limited medical coders and billers, which has led to an increased demand for their skills. Here is all you need to know as you contemplate joining this profession.

Ideally, the job entails working in the administration sector of health care facilities to ensure accurate interpretation and transfer of different kinds of data. As such, you will record all the information regarding patients’ payments, code them, and transfer the data to such relevant departments like insurance for payment. This will involve dealing with a lot of paperwork, which you must sort and file. You will handle all insurance claims and even confidential files and records for all patients. For this reason, you should be of great character, loyal, discreet, and uphold a high regard for professional ethics. Overall, it is your duty to ensure that the health care facility is running efficiently with constant cash flow.

The Availability Of Medical Billing and Coding Jobs

As long as you are qualified, you will not lack a job in this profession. This niche of the job market is growing at a very fast rate. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics outlined that by 2018, the medical billing and coding job market will have grown by 20% or above 20% since 2008. This predicted surge is credited to factors like the increased use of technology in recording and storage of health information and patient records. Therefore, more coders and billers with relevant computer and analytical know how will be required. The number of jobs differs from one state to the other although there are some states recording relatively higher levels than others. For instance, California and Texas had 17,340 and 14,710 such jobs out of the 172,500 jobs found all over the US in 2008.

A majority of employment opportunities in this particular field are found in hospitals. However, you can also work in a physician’s office, nursing care institutions, and with insurance carriers among others. Medical billers and coders can either work as inpatient or outpatient billers and coders. Inpatient billers and coders tend to handle more complex data of all the inpatients in the hospital or other health care facilities. On the other hand, outpatient billers and coders only code the data of patients frequenting physicians’ offices or those receiving outpatient treatment like in clinics and emergency rooms in hospitals.

Salary Projections

This profession offers lucrative salaries with an average annual salary of $32,350 in 2010 as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries differ from one employer to another with hospitals offering the highest salaries with an average of $35,870. In second place are medical billers and coders working in physicians’ offices with an average wage of $28,460. These differences in the job salaries are also observed across the state divides. New Jersey has the highest salaries at $47,050 annually followed closely by Washington with $43,140 annually. In addition, the pharmaceutical industry outranks others as the highest paying industry with an annual salary of $61,210.

It is also apparent from the statistics provided by the American Academy of Professional Coder that certified coders earn better salaries at a median of $45,404 than non-certified coders who earn a median salary of $37,746. This signifies the importance of undergoing the relevant training to gain certification and attract better pay. Furthermore, the more experience you gain working in this profession the better your pay. For instance, a certified coder who has worked for only one year receives an average annual salary of only $34,551 while one who has worked for more than twenty-five years earns an average salary of $53,669 yearly.

As you look at the prospects of working in the medical billing and coding profession, keep in mind that the industry, the size of your workplace, your state, certification, and your years of experience will influence how you are paid. You can then seek the combination providing the best salary.

Medical Billing And Coding Training

Essentially, you only need a high school diploma or an equivalent GED certificate to join medical billing and training programs. These programs are meant to offer you the relevant knowledge required to perform your duties as a medical biller and coder successfully. In the programs, you will learn how to fill and interpret insurance claim forms and medical documents. You will also learn medical terminologies, how to use management systems, and forms of coding. In most cases, these programs are offered at the diploma level although there is room for pursuing further studies in relevant degree courses.

You can opt to study online or in local schools, which must be accredited by such bodies like the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). The length of the training varies according to your study schedule but you can get your certificate even in four months. You should have completed at least 640 hours of study after which you must pass the Certified Professional Coder exams in order to be duly certified. With this certificate, you can join this profession easily but with a bachelor degree or master’s degree, you are likely to benefit from senior job positions that are likely to emerge in the future.