Whether you are looking for the perfect work at home opportunity or you want to work in a professional healthcare setting in an administrative role, you may want to consider going into medical insurance billing and coding. Medical insurance billing and coding are actually two different jobs, but since they are related they are often paired together and spoken of as a single opportunity. The majority of health information technicians only choose to specialize in one or the other, but it is possible to learn both and excel at both professionally.
Medical insurance billing and coding jobs are on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects demand for these roles to increase by an astounding 20% by 2018, which is nearly double the rate of job expansion in other sectors. That makes this an excellent time to start training to become a medical insurance biller or coder. By the time you finish school, you should find more openings than there are today. Even just searching online, you should find a lot of openings right now.
What exactly is medical insurance billing and coding? What will you be learning about when you decide to go to school for one of these jobs? Medical insurance billing is exactly what it sounds like—as a biller you send out charges to patients or their insurance companies or the government programs which are covering their procedures, and then you log the payments as they come in. If there are issues with payments, as a biller you will have to get in contact with all the parties involved to straighten things out. You can also choose to facilitate payments from patients with payment plans, and if a patient disappears and defaults, you can send the payments to collections to free up resources in the billing department.
Medical insurance coding is a process which takes place prior to medical insurance billing. Every day there are hundreds of patients who come and go from hospitals, and there are thousands of tests, procedures and treatments performed. With so much going on it is much easier for hospitals and clinics to keep track of everything using numerical and alphanumerical codes. These codes are used in billing but are also used for other purposes. For example, a hospital may use the codes to analyze the procedures performed in their facilities each day in order to shuffle their staff around to generate greater efficiency.
Since the two jobs are related, there are people who perform both functions. There is so much to learn which is unique to each though that most people only go into billing or only go into coding, but not both. You will have to think about what interests you the most before you sign up for a training program. Both of these jobs are “behind the scenes” jobs, though you’ll be interacting with the public much more as a biller than you would if you were a coder. Do you enjoy working with customers to help resolve problems, or would you rather most of your interactions were with hospital staff? This is a good basis for deciding whether to become a medical insurance biller or a medical insurance coder.
Medical insurance billing and coding does pay well, especially after you’ve been at it for a while and have become experienced in the field. The median salary for medical billers and coders in 2008 was $30,610 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also stated that the upper end salaries were more than $50,000. The key to getting a great salary is not only to choose your workplace carefully (government roles tend to pay more than roles at clinics, for example), but also to choose a specialty. Medical billers and coders who specialize in complex areas of medicine tend to earn more money, just as physicians who specialize do as well. The longer you work in your field and the more experience you gain, the higher your potential salary as well. What if you choose to work from home? There is a lot of variation in pay for work at home positions too. Staring out you might only make $10.00 an hour, but you could eventually work up to $25.00 an hour. If you have a specialization you may be able to earn more right from the start. During your education you may also want to look for a chance to intern with a hospital or clinic. An internship can jump start your career and also help you learn your role more effectively. You may make the professional connections you need to get your first job in your chosen area of expertise.
To become a medical insurance biller or coder you’ll have to get training through an accredited program. Not only is medical billing and coding extremely flexible as a profession, but the educational programs are flexible as well. If you want to attend a traditional college you can, but if you would prefer vocational school you can do that instead. There are also programs available online if distance learning is more within your budget and schedule. Just make sure that any program you are thinking about entering is indeed accredited before you start comparing all the details to figure out which one is best. Medical billing and coding is a very approachable field. People who enter this field may or may not have any prior college education.
Medical insurance billing and coding offers you a chance to fill a critical, behind-the-scenes function in the medical world. If you’ve always wanted to work in a hospital or clinic but haven’t had the resources or desire to learn medicine yourself, then this can be an excellent alternative. If you want a work at home job which is consistent, profitable, and flexible, then medical insurance billing and coding is an ideal field. You’ll be providing an important administrative service in either case, and whether you choose to manage your own career as a contractor or to become an employee, you’ll be on your way to a rewarding future.
- Medical Billing Specialist
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- Health Information Specialist
- Health Information Technology
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- Health Information Management (BS)