Medical billing and coding schools provide the educational foundation to work as billing and coding specialists. A specialty within health information technology, medical billing and coding specialists assign clinical codes to medical procedures for reimbursement from insurance providers. This process lets doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals bill insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, and receive payment for the services that they provide to patients. They might also bill individual patients who do not have insurance, take payments from these individuals, and negotiate a payment schedule with the patient. If you have an attention to detail and would like to work on the clerical side of healthcare, consider exploring medical billing and coding programs today.
Variety in Medical Billing and Coding Training
Although not always required, employers typically prefer medical billing and coding specialists to pursue post-secondary training. Short-term certificate programs in medical billing and coding generally last between 12 and 18 months. You could also elect to pursue a two-year associate’s degree in health information technology, which can qualify you to become not only a biller and coder, but also a medical and health information technician, who organizes and maintains patient records. During your program, you might take some of the following courses:
- Medical billing
- Civil litigation
- Medical coding
- Medical office technology
- Medical terminology
- Insurance claim procedures
Becoming a medical billing and coding specialist requires analytical skills for understanding different diagnoses and records so that they can be coded accurately in the patient’s file, good technical skills for using electronic health records (EHR) software, and interpersonal skills for working with healthcare professionals and insurance companies.
Additionally, many employers prefer those who acquire professional certification. Among the certifications available is the Certified Professional Coder Credential offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Those who pursue a health information technology degree can earn a Registered Health Information Technician Certification (RHIT) through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
What to Expect in Medical Billing and Coding Careers
Medical billing and coding specialists work in office environments. Some may work on evenings, weekends, and holidays as patients need healthcare at all hours. At larger facilities, such as hospitals, health information technicians might need to know the codes for a broad range of diagnosis, tests, and other health data. They are also responsible for protecting patient confidentiality.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for health information technicians as a whole will likely increase faster than average at a rate of 21% through 2020. In 2011, the median annual wage for medical records and heath information technicians was $33,310. Those in the lowest 10% had earnings of less than $21,680, while the top 10% earned more than 55,170.
With more doctor’s offices and hospitals switching to EHR systems and insurance companies requiring more specific diagnostic codes for reimbursement, demand for medical billing and coding specialists will remain in the coming decade. The growing population, higher number of insured individuals, and desire for preventative healthcare will likely also contribute to this demand. Start your healthcare career by exploring medical billing and coding schools online today.
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