If you're looking for a bright career in the healthcare industry, look no further. Medical coding and billing has emerged as one of the hottest selling careers in this vertical, attracting aspirants from across the country.
Not only is this field capturing the imagination of the young and the restless eager to get their careers off to an early start, but also those who are in search of a stable, yet promising profession.
Medical billing and coding training does not require extensive schooling. The field offers excellent employment opportunities and growth prospects along with decent compensation (a certified medical coder can earn up to $21.50 per hour).*
But most importantly, since the profession forms part of the healthcare industry, it provides reasonable protection against the jolts of recession.
What is Medical Billing and Coding?
Medical billing and coding forms one of the most important functions in the healthcare industry. In fact, this function is responsible for ensuring that healthcare providers are reimbursed for the services they provide to their patients.
Although referred to as one occupation, medical billing and coding are actually two distinct roles each having its own specialty. However, both medical billers and coders work together to make sure that, healthcare providers get paid on time.
Medical coders are specialists who assign standardized codes to the various services provided by physicians or other healthcare practitioners on the basis of which insurance companies like Medicare and Medicaid are billed.
Safe to say, medical coders serve as an important link between healthcare providers and health insurance companies. Because their role is significant for both the parties, medical coders are employed by both, healthcare facilities as well as insurance carriers.
Even within medical coding, there are two specialties based on type of patients. Inpatient coders are the ones that deal with records of patients that are admitted to a healthcare facility, while outpatient ones specialize in coding the records of patients who take medical consultation without admission.
Medical billing and coding training should ideally prepare candidates for both inpatient and outpatient coding.
Medical billers come into the picture once the patients' records have been codified. They handle all the billing related documentation and are responsible for making people/insurance companies pay for healthcare services rendered.
How to Become a Medical Biller/Coder
The path to becoming a medical coder or biller is pretty straightforward. Although there are various levels of post secondary medical billing and coding programs available, it is best to start preparing for it in high school itself.
Since the field requires a fair amount of numeric ability, taking classes in algebra and data processing can prove to be extremely valuable.
Courses such as biology and anatomy that build an understanding of the healthcare and medical professions are helpful as well. In addition to this, since medical coders and billers work with sophisticated software, some amount of computer skills are also essential.
Once you have laid the ground, you can choose the level and depth of training depending on your personal goals. You can either work towards a two-year Associate degree in the field from a career school or college or go for a shorter training program in medical billing and coding.
There are legit vocational institutes offering legit Medical billing and coding programs online, which are more affordable than a college degree.
Both a degree and training program should eventually lead to certification from the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC). The organization offers various credentials in medical coding that demonstrate a candidate's level of proficiency in the field.
Alternatively, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) also conducts examinations that lead to certifications for medical coders.
About the Author
Nancy is a 35-year old stay at home mom of two. She worked as a medical assistant for five years before taking a break to be with her children. Her experience as a medical assistant gave her valuable insights in to the medical billing and coding industry, which she likes to share with others through her writing. Medical billing and coding programs often find mention in her writings. Her expertise in Medical billing and coding training stems from her extensive research on the subject.
Her other interests include gardening and baking. She stays with her husband and two daughters.