Are you in search of a great work at home profession or a steady job which you can perform at a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare setting? If so, you may be interested in going into medical billing and coding. These two professions are in increasing demand; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for medical billers and coders is expected to increase by 20% by 2018. This is much faster than average—almost twice as fast as many other professions. In the recession climate this is very impressive, so job prospects are excellent.
How much money will you make as a medical biller or coder? According to the BLS, the median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians (which includes medical billers and coders) was $30,610 in 2008, with the middle 50% earning between $24,290 and $39,490. The lower end of the range was $20,440, and the upper end of the range was $50,060.
What Makes a Medical Billing and Coding Salary Vary So Much?
What causes so much variation in the salaries of medical billers and coders? Depending on where you choose to work and what you choose to specialize in (if anything), your salary could vary quite a bit. For example, on average the medical billers and coders who choose to work in physicians’ offices and outpatient care centers make far less than the median wage. Those who work in nursing care facilities and general medical surgical hospitals still make less than the median but much closer to it. The health information technicians who make the most are those who work for the Federal Executive Branch. If you choose to work from home your hourly rate could be as little as $10.00 or as much as $25.00.
What other factors influence the salaries made by medical billers and coders? Your level of education and your experience should have some impact on your salary, but you can also make a difference in your income by choosing to specialize in a field of medicine which commands a higher end salary. Just as physicians who choose to specialize make more than general practitioners, medical coders and billers who do the same will also earn more money.
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How To Start On Your Path To a Great Medical Billing and Coding Salary
How do you start on your path to earning a great salary as a medical biller or coder? First, you’ll need to decide which field you want to enter. Medical billing and coding are usually discussed in the same context because they are related professions. They are different fields though, and the job descriptions are unique for each. Some people do choose to become medical billers and medical coders, but most people do one or the other.
If you become a medical coder, your responsibility will be to assign numeric or alphanumeric codes to procedures, conditions, treatments, tests and more. There are a number of reasons why this is important for clinics, physicians and other providers. One reason is that it makes it easy to communicate about a patient’s medical history. The other reason is that it makes it easy to review and modify staffing, scheduling, and other administrative aspects of running a healthcare facility. The last reason is that medical billers use medical codes to get healthcare providers paid for their services.
If you decide to become a medical biller, you will be responsible for billing patients, health-insurance providers and government programs for medical services rendered at a facility. It will be up to you to follow up on the bills to make sure that they are paid and to address any issues which may arise during the payment cycle. If the bills become delinquent, it will be your job to put the patient on a payment plan, get their insurance company to pay, or send the bill to collections as appropriate. You’ll have to learn to interpret the medical codes sent by the medical coders and apply the proper charges. When payments are received you will log them. You’ll use customer service skills in your interactions with patients and insurance companies.
After you decide whether to become a coder or biller, you will have to find an accredited medical billing or coding program at a university, online university, or vocational school. This program will teach you the skills you need for medical billing or coding in the professional world. You may also be able to get into an internship through your program. An internship will allow you to get hands on job experience, meet other professionals in your field, and perhaps even land your first real job as a medical biller or coder once your training is complete.
Medical billing and coding are great career choices for anyone searching for flexibility and a stable salary and who has the necessary personality attributes to do their job. What kinds of attributes do you need to excel as a coder or biller? You will need to be a hard worker who pays attention to detail, can juggle many tasks at once, and can correspond easily with patients and insurance companies, even in difficult situations. You’ll need to be a problem solver who can figure out what’s going on when patients, providers and insurance companies all get confused. It’ll be your responsibility to make sure your provider gets paid.
Even though medical billing and coding salaries vary widely, there is ample opportunity for you to become one of the high earners if you choose your educational course wisely, complete a great internship, and choose an area of expertise which is in high demand and which requires specialized knowledge. It may take you a while to work up to the medical billing and coding salary you desire, but such is the case in any profession. Even if you might still have a hard time landing a job now, job prospects are growing quickly in this field, which means by the time you complete your training there will be even more openings available. Whether you want to work in an office or at home, medical billing or coding may be the perfect occupation for you.
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