Are you considering becoming a medical billing and coding specialist? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics, the medical records and health information technicians’ job outlook is expected to grow 11 percent.
This article will cover what exactly this job entails, and why it’s so rewarding. Read on to discover your new stable and financially promising career path for the future.
What Does a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Do?
Medical billers and coders are also known as health claims specialists since they process health insurance claims for hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare offices.
If you decide to become a medical biller and coder, you’ll be in a traditional office setting at a desk on a computer. For this role, you’ll need to be organized and detail-oriented. This position is normally Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Some responsibilities include:
• Follow up with insurers about late payments
• Review claims for accuracy
• Work with other staff for accuracy
• Use a coding system to choose correct codes for diagnoses and procedures
• Track payments
While you’ll be expected to communicate with physicians and other staff, most of your work will be independently done.
How It’s Done
The typical day involves looking at a patient’s chart to see medical history as far as treatments and diagnoses. You’ll then take a look at established codes to determine what code properly aligns with the treatment or diagnosis given.
Currently, what’s known as the ICD-11 is used for determining codes. ICD stands for International Classification of Diseases. ICD-11 is much more accurate than previous ICD revisions in the past.
Opportunity for Advancement
Many medical records and health information technicians go on to become coders. Cancer registrars are an option as well.
As a cancer registrar you’ll:
• Assign codes for procedures and diagnoses for cancer
• Review patient records for accuracy
• Perform annual followups to track treatment given
• Take a look at patient information for research
If you’re starting out a medical billing and coding specialist, the average pay is $36,921.
Why Become Certified?
When a position is open, they’ll be looking for those who are certified as a medical billing specialist or in medical coding. They’ll want to make sure you’re knowledgeable and understand the different codes and procedures involved for accuracy.
You can find educational programs through community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes whether online or in person. You’ll learn medical terminology and insurance protocol.
You’ll also learn to manage computer databases along with learning how to code. If you decide to go for an associate’s Degree instead of certification, that’s an acceptable option as well.
There are many ads or flyers out there about work-from-home medical billing and coding jobs, and sadly they can be a scam. They might promise great pay even if you have no experience.
Use your best judgment and avoid any companies that promise to hire you from home with no experience. If you decide you want to work from home, normally you’ll need to obtain experience in the field to be able to work from home.
You’ll have to abide by HIPAA Laws (health privacy laws) to ensure privacy in your home. Your home needs to be a secure location where others can’t access personal information and codes of others.
Important Traits to Have
Since accuracy is extremely important, you’ll need to have attention to detail and be organized. Along with this, there are many other traits that are important to maintain this level of accuracy.
Attention to detail is important since you’ll be checking bills for accuracy and notice any errors. You’ll also want to be great at customer service since you’ll be speaking with people about their health and payments.
You should be comfortable using a computer since you’ll be on one for the majority of the day. You’ll need to be comfortable working with others because you’ll need to work with a team at times.
Communication is important as well because you’ll be on the phone with insurance companies and patients. You’ll answer any questions patients may have about their bill.
Medical terminology is something you’ll learn in your training, but it’s vital to stay up to date on any changes and be able to speak with physicians and patients. Bookkeeping and accounting are important as well since you’ll be sending out bills and reconciling them.
Problem-solving is a vital step as well because there could be errors. It’s about catching errors, and knowing how to fix them.
Certification vs Associates
Obtaining a certification or diploma program is the most common way someone goes into medical billing and coding. These are the programs at community colleges, vocational schools, and trade schools.
This program is normally done in a year or less. If you decide to go for your associate’s degree, it normally will take about 2 years, but you’ll learn much more than a certification.
The cost of an associate’s degree is normally more than a certification program though. If you decide to go for your associate’s, many employers will favor someone with an Associates than a certification since they’ve received more education.
After your associates or certification, you can always try and find an internship to get some experience under your belt.
Becoming a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Becoming a medical billing and coding specialist is a career with advancement options as well as job security and good pay. Would you like to learn more about the medical field? Check out our other articles.