Medical billing and coding can be a lucrative and rewarding career for someone who has an aptitude for numbers and details. Medical billing involves collecting information about the services a patient receives and billing the insurance company for the appropriate procedures. Coding is used during the compilation of the billing. Every medical procedure is assigned a specific code, and those codes are used as shorthand to let the insurance company know what procedures it is being billed for.
A medical billing and coding specialist must have a deep understanding of the codes and how they should be applied properly so that the medical facility receives the correct payment and the insurance company is billed the right amount. Billing and coding requires specified training that can be acquired through a two or four year school. Due to the nature of billing and coding, a high level of expertise is generally expected from medical professionals who use a billing and coding service. Most career billing and coding experts become very skilled at negotiating between insurance companies and medical offices.
Medical Billing Certification and Coding Licensing
Once you have completed your medical billing and coding degree, there are several certifications you can earn to prove that you are skilled and knowledgeable enough to work as a biller and coder. The American Academy of Professional Coders offers three highly respected certificates: Certified Professional Coder, Certified Professional Coder-Payer, and Certified Professional Coder-Hospital. None of these certifications are necessary to work as a billing and coding specialist, but having a special certification greatly increases your chances of finding a good position with the medical company of your choice. Each certification is earned through specialized training and passing an exam.
Medical Coding Training Requirements
Medical billing and coding requires an extensive knowledge of medical procedures and the standards that insurance companies apply to the coding of those procedures. You will spend time focusing on the relationships between medical institutions and insurance companies so that you can understand your role within that structure. There are several different areas of expertise that billing and coding covers, and you will receive training in dental billing and coding, medical documentation, managed care programs, and several other aspects of health insurance coverage. Medical billing and coding training also includes extensive work with computer programs that aid in the process of billing and coding for medical institutions.
Medical Billing and Coding Courses, Schools and Classes
When you begin looking for a medical billing and coding school, the first thing you should consider is how much time you can invest in the learning process. There are four year colleges and universities that offer medical billing and coding degrees, and these are probably the most in depth courses available. Technical and vocational schools offer two year degrees. With a technical or vocational school you have the opportunity to learn billing and coding without having to attend classes that are not directly involved with the career you’ve chosen. If you want to attend medical billing and coding school while you work a full time job, you may find that an online course fits your needs better than a brick and mortar school.
Medical Coding Careers
Medical billing and coding is in high demand right now. As the average age of Americans rises, the need for more medical professionals rises as well. Trained medical billing and coding specialists have their choice of medical facilities to work for. You could work in a large hospital with several other billing and coding specialists, or you could choose to work for a small firm that only needs one billing and coding employee. There are also billing and coding services that contract with medical facilities from a central location. These services may work with hundreds of different physicians on a daily basis.
How Much does a Medical Coding Specialist Make?
Medical billing and coding specialists can expect to earn around $28,650 per year. Entry-level positions may not pay as well, but you will have opportunities to advance once you begin your career. The level of education and training that you achieve prior to working will have a direct impact on how much money you can make from the beginning. Investing in education and certification will make you more valuable to employers, and you will earn a higher than average salary to compensate for your proven expertise.