Take these hints in mind when deciding on your new career
Medical billers and coders—also called Health Claims Specialists—are professionals in the field of healthcare who are responsible for handling medical insurance claims. They work in the billing offices of doctors’ offices and hospitals, where they enter the correct codes on patients’ records and ensure that the practice gets paid for the medical services it provides.
If you are considering starting a new career, and are interested in becoming a medical biller and coder, there are some pros and cons to think about:
Pros of Becoming a Health Claims Specialist
- You can be part of the healthcare industry in an office setting
Medical billers and coders work in offices, and do not have a lot of direct contact with patients, other than to resolve billing issues. For people who want to work in healthcare, but may be uncomfortable with the demands of direct patient care, this can be a perfect career choice. You can feel satisfaction in knowing that you are in a respectable industry, and that you are helping others receive valuable healthcare, yet you don’t have to directly work with patients’ medical needs.
- Your working hours will be steady and predictable
If you are tired of jobs where you don’t know your hours from week to week, then this career could be a welcome change. Medical billers and coders tend to work regular business hours, with some evening or weekend hours. If you work in a hospital or other facility that is open 24 hours a day, you might have night shift options, but for the most part, you will work during the day with a regular predictable schedule.
- Your job training can be completed in just one or two years
Depending on what educational option you choose, you could complete your training in about one year’s time. There are private career schools that offer accelerated programs that take about one year, and typically include an internship where you get to practice your new job skills. You can also choose to expand your opportunities by enrolling in an associate’s degree program at a community college. These programs typically take just two years to complete.
- Your job skills are useful across the country
Medical billing and coding is a career that can be practiced nearly anywhere in the U.S. Anywhere where medical services are provided, there are medical billers and coders working behind the scenes. This is good to know should you ever need to relocate.
- You will be providing an important service to others
Doing meaningful work can be a very rewarding part of a career. As a medical biller and coder, you are someone who is needed to make the healthcare system run smoothly. Understanding insurance policies and insurance claims can be complicated. Problems with insurance coverage can result in healthcare providers not being paid for their services. Or if a claim is filed incorrectly, it can mean patients not getting the proper reimbursement. With accurate billers and coders, these problems can be avoided.
Cons of this Career Field
- You have to be a detail-oriented person
Being a medical biller and coder may not be for everyone. In this job, you will be dealing with assigning procedure codes and diagnosis codes to patients’ records, so that insurance companies can make their reimbursements. Accuracy is extremely important! For this reason, you will want to be someone who pays attention to detail, can catch errors if they are made, and has a critical eye for accuracy.
- You have to be comfortable with long hours in front of the computer
If you are a hands-on person who wants a very active job, then this career may not be right for you. Most medical billers and coders spend most of their working hours seated in front of a computer. You may have a large list of claims to work through on any given day, and this requires your concentration and the ability to stay focused in front of the computer.
- You have to be patient with resolving issues
Like any job, you will have some frustrations as a medical biller and coder. There may be complications when working with Medicare, and with such a large federal agency, it may take a long time to get an issue resolved. You might have to deal with rejected claims, and this can take up your time in trying to figure out why they were rejected. You might occasionally have angry patients who don’t understand their own insurance policies. And you might have very busy days where it seems there is no end to the claims. Just breathe deeply and remember, patience is a virtue, and your services are valued!
If you like the “pros” and think you can handle the “cons,” then it may be worth exploring this career option. Learn more by reading 5 Things to Know about Becoming a Medical Biller and Coder. And best of luck with your decision!
The Harris School of Business is proud of its Health Claims Specialist program, where we prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in this field. With locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware, we offer the Delaware Valley a host of career-focused programs. Contact us if you want to learn more.