Most of us see the people in hospitals, clinics, and doctor offices that provide medical care; however, many people do not recognize that it takes many more workers to make the healthcare industry run smoothly. There are people behind the scenes that make sure the administrative tasks are handled. For example, medical billing and coding professionals play a key part in the healthcare process.
These professionals must be able to take a transcribed medical record and convert it to a billing statement. Training familiarizes the medical biller and coder with most medical procedures, and during training, students learn how to interpret these procedures into billing codes.
Classification software is used to perform the task of billing and coding, but the computer is very limited in what it can generate. The operator of the computer must have specialized training that familiarizes them with the human body, pharmacology, medical terminology, and the CPT coding system used around the world. Each diagnosis is assigned a code, and the code translates into a billing amount. The classification software determines how much Medicaid, Medicare, or some other health insurance company will be billed for the services.
Medical billers and coders must be very efficient and accurate. A slight mistake could cost thousands of dollars to the hospital, insurance company, or patient. Thus, it is critical that the person be detail-oriented.
Medical billing and coding professionals can specialize. For instance, some professionals in the field deal directly with cancer registry. Cancer registrars maintain databases of people with cancer and tumors. Medical billing and coding specialists review the patient’s record and assigns codes for the treatment of certain cancers and tumors. These registrars also track the treatment, recovery, and survival rates of the patients within the registry.
Medical Billing and Coding Schools By State
Medical billing and coding specialists work in a clean, comfortable environment. Many work in hospitals, clinics, doctor offices, or nursing homes. The medical biller and coder has their own computer, phone line, and other office equipment. The environment is relatively quiet. There is no hands on patient interaction required. Oftentimes, the medical biller and coder must confer with a doctor for clarification.
A 40 hour week is the standard; however, since hospital facilities are 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, it is possible for some to work shift work. Overtime may be necessary during peak times, but this is not generally the case.
Training, Qualification, and Advancement
Employers absolutely require most medical billing and coding professionals to have training. Many community and junior colleges around the nation have programs for medical billing and coding. During training, students can expect to receive a well-rounded education about medical terminology, pharmacology, anatomy, legal issues in medicine, CPT codes, computer software, and other topics. Students will spend a great deal of time learning the classification systems and software. This is the one tool that will be used profusely during their career as a medical biller and coding.
Most colleges offer an associate program in medical coding and billing. The program typically takes two years to complete. Employers are more likely to hire someone with this type of credential. Certification is also very important in this field. Employers like to hire candidates that have this added credential. It further demonstrates a person’s competency in the field. The Academy of Professional Coders offers a coding certification. There are other specialty coding certifications also. For instance, a person can receive certification in cancer registry.
It is absolutely imperative that a medical biller and coder possess great speaking and writing skills. Candidates that are proficient with computers and computer coding software stand a good chance of obtaining employment. Employers need employees that are highly skilled in this area. Those seeking advancement in the field will want to attain a bachelor or master’s degree. Coders with this type of education can eventually advance into health information management positions.
More than 170,000 medical technicians held a job in the U.S. as of 2008. The labor department predicts that there will be an increased need for medical billing and coding professionals. Several key things will dictate the job vacancies. First, congressional regulation of insurance companies will demand more workers in the field. Also, the increased numbers of senior citizens requiring more medical care will generate more bills. All of these factors make choosing a career in medical billing and coding a good option for many.
Medical billing and coding specialists with a strong skill set in computers and technology will be in high demand. The advent of the electronic record system makes it necessary to have highly skilled professionals in this area. Predictions are that the vacancies in this field will grow as much as 20% throughout 2018. This is a higher rate than most professions. Job opportunities look good for those who can demonstrate competency in the medical billing and coding field.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Medical billing and coding professionals earn a good salary. The amount of training compared to the yearly salary is quite impressive. For instance, the median wage for most coders was $30,016 in 2008. The middle group of professionals in this field earned an average of $24,000 to $39,000 per year. The absolute lowest ten percent in the field earned $20,000. The highest wage earners made around $50,000 per year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/