How to Become a Medical Billing/Coding Worker: Data Matters

If you are interested in getting involved in the medical field quickly, you may be wondering how to become a medical billing/coding worker. Medical billing/coding workers can be separated into two career paths: coding specialists, who take patient history and treatment information and translate it into code for the purpose of appropriate billing, and medical billers, who take the data coded by the specialist and file the claims to insurance companies in order to assist healthcare providers in receiving payment.

Billing/coding is one of very few health-related fields with no hands-on patient care contact—an important factor to consider depending on your motivation for pursuing such a job. However, medical billing and coding offers you an excellent way to get involved in the medical field, employ your computer software and organizational skills, and enter a profession with only a short-term education required.

Medical Billing/Coding Worker Education Degree Requirements

Educational requirements for medical billing/coding workers typically include a one year certificate or two-year associate’s degree. A competitive candidate will have completed coursework in medical, billing, and coding or health information technology, which might covers topics, such as anatomy, medical terminology, pharmacology, diagnostic procedures, clinical classification, and the coding systems for Medicare/Medicaid, insurance, and various settings including ambulatory, physician’s office, and long-term care.

In addition to the roles of coding specialist and medical biller, within the billing/coding field, there are specialties available. For example, a cancer registrar works specifically with databases of cancer patients from the facility to the national level, coding diagnoses and tumor types, and tracking patient outcomes and mortality—information which is critical to advancing cancer research and identifying candidates for experimental treatments. With a degree in medical, billing, and coding or health information technology, you could also pursue a career as a health information technician, who organizes and manages patient history and treatment information to ensure its accuracy and security.

After you have completed your schooling and chosen your career track, you will likely have to sit for a certification exam administered by American Academy of Professional Coders, and those interested in a career as a cancer registrar can earn credentials through the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). Additionally, if you would like to become a Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT), there is an exam provided by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

No matter your role, the increasing prevalence of electronic health records (EHR) will make significant demands on workers to keep current with the latest in software and data management, and workers may have the opportunity to contribute to improving HER software usability and information networks.

Becoming a Medical Billing/Coding Worker: Career Outlook

Many medical billing/coding workers use the position as a stepping stone towards further education or as a way to test the waters of the medical field, and it is also an excellent job for filling a gap in your education while deciding on a final direction. However, salaries in billing/coding are quite competitive given the level of education required. In 2008, the median annual salary for medical records and health information technicians (the field encompassing health information technicians and coding specialists) was $30, 610 a year, with federal workers in this profession earning median annual salaries of $42,000. Like most health-related professions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects significant growth in employment, with 20% more positions expected to be created between 2008 and 2018.

Furthermore, careers in medical billing and coding also offer opportunities for advancement in the administrative components of healthcare. With experience and further education at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, a person who begins as a medical billing/coding worker might chart a course towards becoming a hospital manager. Start you educational journey to becoming a medical billing/coding worker today!