Medical billing and coding are similar occupations that fall within the field of medical administration. Although there is a difference between medical billing clerks and medical coders, the jobs are often combined due to the similarity of the required expertise.
Individuals who are seeking a job in medical administration should be encouraged to pursue medical billing and coding as a career as it is one of the fastest growing professions within the healthcare industry. In addition, many medical billing and coding positions remain unfulfilled due to a shortage of qualified candidates. Education in the form of a certificate or degree is required for most medical billing jobs. Jump start your career by requesting free information today from the schools below:
As the healthcare industry becomes more and more reliant on information technology to store and retrieve patient information, medical billing and coding professionals will enjoy an increased demand for their particular skill-set and extensive employment opportunities. Medical billing and coding professionals are employed by the administrative wing of the health care industry. Their basic responsibility is to accurately translate patient information and into alpha-numeric medical code. Information handled by medical coders include patient treatment, health history, diagnosis, and related information. This information will then be transferred between health care providers and insurance companies, so the proper amount of payment can be generated and paid.
Medical coding and billing professionals must know several different coding systems, depending on their place of employment. The Level 1 HCPCS coding system is used by hospital providers, while Level 2 HCPCS is used for hospitals, physicians and other health professionals. Diagnoses are coded using the DRG coding system. It is incredibly important that the medical coders be as detail-oriented as possible as the dispersion of proper payment and creation of precise, easily processed medical bills depend on their coding expertise.
Training and Education Requirements
There is no set educational or training requirement to start a career as a medical billing and coding professional, however there are certain skills specific to the field that can only be learned through a qualified program. It is possible to obtain either a 2-year associates degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree in the field. While the lack of skilled medical billing and coding professionals currently working makes it more likely that an individual with an associates degree can obtain a high paying position, earning a 4-year bachelors degree in the field will guarantee more lucrative employment overall. It is also possible to earn a diploma in medical coding, which is a good choice for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as a branch information technology.
The skills taught in medical billing and coding programs will cover the basics of medicine, such as anatomy, physiology, diseases, and diagnoses. This knowledge is essential for coders as they will be required to accurately translate medical jargon into code. Medical coding students will also study business operations, insurance claims processes, basic office procedures, and the use and application of medical billing software. In addition, students should have a thorough education in coding systems and coding terminology. The coding systems covered should include ICD-9-CM, CPT/HCPCS, DSM-IV and ICPM (International Classification of Procedures in Medicine).
Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Wages
Medical billing and coding salaries tend to be high compared to those of other health care administrators due to the industry-wide demand for their skills. The average salary for a medical coder is between $38,000 and $50,000 per year. Medical billing and coding professionals who earn the most on average work as permanent inpatient coders ($74,000), while instructors can earn an average of $48,000 training new medical coding employees.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
There are some variations depending on experience, education, certification, size of employer, and geographic location. Generally, medical billing and coding professionals who work for larger hospitals will be paid more. In areas where cost of living is higher, average salaries will also be higher. Medical coders with more experience can ask for higher salaries, although entry-level salaries are also quite high.
Certification is not mandatory for medical billing and coding professionals, but candidates that do hold certification along with an educational credential are more competitive in the workplace. Additionally, certification is a good way to demonstrate a high standard of professionalism that is in line with the expectations of the healthcare industry.
There are several national and local organizations that offer certification to medical billing and coding specialists. These organizations have separate requirements for certification and offer different credentials. Some may require that candidates hold a degree and have a set amount of work experience in order to seek certification, while others might accept 2 or more years of on-the-job experience. Generally, certification lasts for 2-5 years and requires that the medical billing and coding professional sit for an exam. They may also need to complete a number of hours of continuing education in order to be eligible for re-certification.
There are many professional associations that offer certification for medical billing and coding professionals. The certifications vary based on the professional’s area of expertise and education.
The American Association of Medical Billers (AAMB) offers a Certified Medical Biller (CBM) and Certified Medical Billing Specialist (CMBS) credential after the passage of an exam.
American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is a national organization that offers 3 credentials to medical billing and coders: Certified Procedural Coder (CPC), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), and Certified Coding Specialist for the Physician (CCS-P).
American Guild of Patient Account Management (AGPAM) offers several types of certification to medical coders: Certified Patient Account Technician (CPAT), Certified Clinic Account Technician (CCAT), Certified Patient Account Manager (CPAM), and Certified Clinic Account Manager (CCAM).