Medical Billing and Coding Explained

Posted by on Wed, Jul 15, 2015

medical coding and billing careers

Medical billing and medical coding are two separate entry-level jobs that fall under the designation of medical records and health information technicians.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this occupation is projected to grow by 22% over the next several years as more people gain access to our healthcare system and more baby boomers require the medical attention that comes with age.

What is a certificate in medical billing and coding?

A training program in medical billing and coding, such as the online medical billing and coding certificate program offered by Kaplan University, prepares you to take certification exams in either medical billing or medical coding, much like a real estate training program prepares you to take your state’s real estate licensing exam. These programs give students the solid basis in proper medical terminology for human anatomy and medical procedures that is needed to perform both jobs. They also teach students the standardized medical coding abbreviations they will use in both positions as well. After completing your training program through an accredited school, you can take either one or both exams. If you work for a larger employer, you will typically be performing one job, but some employees at smaller offices take on both duties.

What do medical coders do?

Medical coders are responsible for looking over patients’ medical records and assigning proper billing codes to each procedure so that they may be processed by an insurance company. Attention to detail is of the utmost importance for medical coding positions, and the top medical coders are both accurate and speedy, processing up to 200 patient records a day on average. Medical coders are also employed to audit the work of other medical coders to ensure that no mistakes are being made.

What do medical billers do?

Medical billers are the liaisons between patients, insurance companies, and doctors. They can read and explain medical code, and they make sure that everyone is working together so that claims get processed accurately and bills get paid. If you’ve ever called your doctor’s office with billing questions, you’ve probably been referred to a medical biller to have those questioned answered.

Where do medical billers and coders work?

Certified medical billers and medical coders generally work in outpatient facilities including doctor’s offices, nursing homes, rehab centers, and clinics of all kinds. Many smaller medical practices outsource their billing and coding duties to private companies. Medical billers and coders may also work for insurance companies and the federal government.

Although  most medical billers and coders work full-time, there are part-time positions available as well as work-at-home opportunities (although many employees start in offices before they become trusted enough to work at home). It is a good idea to explore the employment options in your area before deciding if a career in medical billing and coding is a good option for you.

What about working in hospitals?

Inpatient medical coding and billing responsibilities in hospitals and surgical centers are more complex. These jobs typically require the additional education that comes with earning a degree in health information technology. There are associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees available in the field, and each of these degree programs encompasses medical billing and medical coding in its training. A degree in health information technology qualifies you for higher paying positions with more complex responsibilities.

How much do medical coders and billers earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes salary and employment information for Health Information Technicians and does not break it down by their level of education or certification. The yearly average salary for health information technicians in 2012 was $34,160. The range from the lowest ten percent to the highest ten percent went from less than $22,250 to more than $56,200.

*The top-paying employers for health information technicians as of May 2014 were as follows:

Industry: Annual mean wage:
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing $50,170
Drugs and Druggists’ Sundries Merchant Wholesalers $49,520
Legal Services $48,680
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) $47,070
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services $45,850

*The industries with the highest levels of employment for health information technicians were:

Industry: Annual mean wage:
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $41,350
Offices of Physicians $33,910
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) $37,670
Outpatient Care Centers $36,680
Management of Companies and Enterprises $43,320

Employment and wages are also affected by the geographic area in which you live.

In Conclusion

Medical coding and medical billing careers are good options for many job-seekers. Medical coders need to pay meticulous attention to detail and will work more with data than with people. Medical billers need to have customer service skills and a knack for solving the issues that arise between all the parties involved in billing and paying for medical procedures. Research the job and your employment opportunities thoroughly before making any decisions, and find an accredited school to earn your certificate or degree.

*Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Comments (2)

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  1. Ben Heyworth says:

    Find-A-Code has a pretty special resource for people looking to break into a new career and suppliment their medical and billing coding knowledge.

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