Medical Billing And Coding, The Perfect Career?

If you want to go into business for yourself and maybe even work from home, you probably have heard about medical billing and coding jobs. Medical billing and coding are two separate but related professions, and some professionals choose to do both.

What is medical billing and coding?  Medical billing and coding is the process of classifying and submitting healthcare claims on the behalf of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers.  Only through medical billing and coding can healthcare professionals get paid, which is why there is always a need for medical billers and coders!

Medical Billing And Coding SalaryThe process starts with medical coding.  The job of medical coders is actually goes beyond billing applications.  The diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions is complicated, and one way of simplifying it is to apply numeric or alphanumeric designations to various diseases, ailments, tests, and procedures.  This makes it much easier for healthcare providers to track a patient’s condition and general health, as well as to identify allergies and other potentially life-threatening conditions at a glance.  Other applications for the numerical codes which medical coders provide include staffing and scheduling, modifications to services available at particular facilities, and, of course, reporting for billing and reimbursement of medical services.  Doctors want to get paid, and they can’t do that without the help of medical coders.

After medical coding takes place, medical billing can begin.  Medical billers may or may not also be medical coders; whether you choose to learn both professions is up to you.  Using the medical codes which the coders put together, the medical billers send and process claims to insurance companies and patients and post payments.  Processing medical claims may involve corresponding with the patient or his or her insurance company and addressing problems which cause delays in payment.  It is the biller’s job to follow up on claims until they are paid by either the insurance company, the patient, or a government program like Medicare which provides coverage for certain patients.  It is up to the biller to send statements to the patient and if an account becomes delinquent, to turn it over to collections.

Medical insurance billing and coding are complex professions which require diligence, attention to detail, customer service skills (in the case of billers), and specific training.  The medical billing and coding salary range is quite wide with most professionals making between $20,000 and $50,000 per year.  The mid 50% earn between $25,000 and $39,000.  What factors may cause you to earn more or less as a medical biller or coder?  Your level of training and experience will have an impact on your salary, as will the institution(s) which you work for.  Federal branch medical billers and coders tend to be the highest earners.  Those who serve outpatient centers and physicians’ offices tend to make the least amount of money.

While you can be a general medical biller or coder, you can also choose to have a specialization in order to make more money, much as a physician might choose to do.  If for example you choose to specialize in a challenging field like neuropsychiatry, you may be able to earn more money than a generalized coder or biller.  You can work in an office or you can work from home.  Work at home medical billers and coders can make anywhere from $10.00 to $25.00 an hour.

Medical billing and coding programs are available at colleges, trade schools, and online universities.  You’ll want to make sure all the programs you are considering are accredited.  Whether you choose to attend medical billing and coding classes in person or online is entirely a matter of what works best for your schedule and what kind of financial resources are available to you.  If you don’t have a lot of time or money, online training may be best.  Otherwise you might benefit from the additional hands-on experience and face to face interaction which you get from a classroom environment.

Whatever type of school you choose to attend, you should look for a program which covers everything you need to know about medical billing or coding.  Medical coding school should teach you about medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and how to translate that information into proper medical codes.  Medical billing programs should include comprehensive information on medical insurance, government healthcare programs, health insurance claim forms, medical documentation, and data entry.

A lot of schools offer internships as part of their curriculum, which can be a great way to get your feet wet and get some hands-on experience.  An internship may be able to jump start your career, too; a lot of times you can simply transition from intern to full-time employee after your training is complete.  Even if this isn’t possible, the job experience will look great on your resume, and may help you in your job search after your education is complete.  An internship may also lend you the confidence you need to succeed when you enter the workforce for real.

Medical billing and coding are two stable professions which are and will always be necessary.  Just as physicians will always have patients needing healthcare, healthcare providers will always need to be able to communicate and get paid.  Since healthcare providers don’t have the time or the resources to do all this on their own, they will always have to hire skilled medical billers and coders who can make their lives easier.  Projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) state that the employment of medical billers and coders and associated professions is expected to increase by 20% by 2018.  How many other professions do you know of which are increasing in demand these days?

During the recession it has become harder than ever to get a decent job.  Medical billing and coding jobs offer you stability and flexibility; the work at home opportunity which billing and coding provides is great for people who hold other part time jobs, want to stay at home with their kids, or just want to enjoy a work at home lifestyle.

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