Learn more about the essential role these specialists play in the healthcare industry
If you are looking for a new career in healthcare, one option to consider is training to become a medical billing and coding specialist. This is a profession that helps doctors, hospitals, and other practitioners to get reimbursed by insurance companies for the services they provide. It is detail-oriented work that takes place in an office setting. In order to determine whether this is something you should pursue, you may want to ask yourself:
- Does the healthcare industry interest me?
- Would I prefer working in an office, as opposed to providing care to patients directly?
- Do I like working on a computer?
- Am I good at paying attention to a lot of small details?
The answers to these questions can help you determine whether medical billing and coding might suit you. To learn more, here are some details about this profession. After reading this, you should have a good sense of where medical billing and coding specialists work, what they do on a typical day, and what traits make them successful. So read on and think about whether this role appeals to you and aligns with your interests and skills.
What is the medical billing and coding profession?
These professionals keep close documentation of the many details about patient visits to healthcare providers. They organize and submit the paperwork that insurance providers require to reimburse healthcare practitioners for their services. Part of the job is making sure the forms are submitted quickly and that the payment is received in a timely manner. Billing and coding specialists use special codes according to what treatments and diagnoses patients receive. These help to make sure that the insurance is billed correctly for each service rendered.
Why is this role important to the industry?
Given that healthcare is such a large sector of our economy, it is essential that billing and payment follows a standard, computerized system. There are universal codes for every procedure and treatment (CPT codes) and every interaction or diagnosis (in a classification list called ICD-10).
Where do medical billers and coders work?
Medical billers and coders are employed by health-related offices such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, and insurance agencies. You will spend much of your day at a computer, and you might be required to process a certain number of forms each day. Some billing and coding specialists work at their own desks, while others share a workspace with one who works a different shift. At a large health system or hospital, you may have the opportunity to learn from other, more experienced billers and coders.
What are typical billing and coding duties?
Some of the routine responsibilities of medical billing and coding specialists include:
- Choosing the proper code for each diagnosis or procedure
- Using an Electronic Health Records system to enter the appropriate codes
- Going over claim forms to make sure they contain the right codes
- Checking with doctors, nurses, and other staff members to make sure information is accurate and up to date
- Utilizing special billing programs and forms that the specific insurance requires
- Keeping track of individual payments to ensure they are received in a timely manner
- Following up with any insurers about payments that are delayed
- Staying up to date about changes in the field, in terms of coding classifications as well as software and procedures
- Occasionally interacting with patients to clarify details of insurance
What skills make a medical biller and coder successful?
First and foremost, this job requires excellent attention to detail and the ability to think critically. A big part of the job is figuring out which of the thousands of different codes in the ICD-10 manual are appropriate for each patient visit and treatment. There is a lot to stay up on, since there are new editions of the manual released each year. Sometimes research is necessary to figure out which code is appropriate.
Individuals who are organized and can work independently do well in this job. It’s important to use your time efficiently, so you can process a decent number of patient files and forms over the course of a work day. Medical billers and coders also need to be good working on a computer, since much of the data they deal with are in the form of electronic medical records. To learn more, find out if you have the traits that are important to becoming a medical billing and coding specialist.
What job titles do people with billing and coding training tend to have?
If you are seeking a job in this field, you may notice a number of different titles for people who handle these responsibilities. Some of the titles you might see in a job posting could include:
- Medical records specialist
- Insurance coder
- Medical claims specialist
- Medical biller/Medical coder
- Health claims specialist
What kind of work hours do medical billers and coders have?
Most people who do this kind of work have a traditional schedule, with hours in the range of 9 to 5. Some employers might permit more flexibility, provided that you are able keep up with your workload.
How much do medical billers and coders make?
One place to learn about what you can expect to earn in this profession is in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. There is a special section on pay for medical records and health information technicians that includes some helpful details. You can also consult the website of the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) for details on how much a medical coder makes, on average. Of course this will vary depending on where in the country you live.
What advantages are there to a career in medical billing and coding?
There are many reasons to go to medical billing and coding school, but here are some positive aspects of this career:
- You can gain marketable skills in a relatively short amount of time.
- It’s possible to complete the career training in about one year.
- A job in healthcare means helping people, which can be a gratifying way to spend your time.
- The work atmosphere for jobs in this field tends to be professional, and people are generally courteous in their dealings with one another.
How can I learn more about this profession?
If this article has inspired you to learn more, we invite you to do additional research about medical billing and coding. Read more if you’re curious about:
If you’ve decided you are interested in pursuing medical billing and coding as a career, we hope you’ll consider looking into the training program at the Harris School of Business. Regardless of what you decide, we wish you all the best in your search for a new profession!
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Harris School of Business. We’re dedicated to supporting all our students in pursuing their career goals. Reach out to us for more information about our several different career training programs. Call us at 800.510.7920 for more information or to schedule a tour of one of our eight campuses in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.