Career Woman

How to become a medical billing and coding specialist

on

Medical billing and coding — what is it? Are they both the same thing? In many cases, employers will group these two together as one job description, but the truth is, they both require specific training and are technically two different jobs. Coders and billers fulfill a vital function in any healthcare facility, and we’re going to take a closer look at how you, too, can join the ranks of these entry-level medical professionals.

What Is Coding and Billing?

When you have an operation, see a doctor, or need prescription medication, each item has a specific medical code. This code helps insurance companies, employers, and government agencies identify what was needed and helps doctors/offices bill properly for services. A medical coder is essentially a translator—looking over a description of the services provided and translating them to the proper coding for billing.

Once a code is established, the medical billing specialist will then turn it into an invoice. Often, these jobs are lumped together, which makes sense if you think about it. Coding the items and then turning the information over to someone else to create an invoice is just another step to take to get the invoice sent.

Coders and billers have several responsibilities, some of which we’ll list here:

  • Turning procedures and medical information into code for billing

  • Creating and sending invoices

  • Tracking payments and rejections

  • Making sure invoices are paid and following up

  • Keeping track of an organization’s outgoing bills

Technically, the medical billing and coding specialist is listed under “secretaries” according to the bureau of labor, so you’re definitely filling an administrative role as a coder. You won’t usually have to deal with any patients, and often, coders work alone (in a small enough medical facility) or with a small team.

The Career Path Is Short And Sweet

Medical coding and billing is in high demand, and the career path isn’t overly complex and won’t take years to get into. When you think “medical”, you probably imagine pursuing a four-year degree or even a doctorate. You can put those worries to rest, though, because becoming a medical billing/coding specialist can take under one year if you opt for a diploma instead of a degree.

Online medical billing and coding classes can help you reach your goal(s) without having to sacrifice the flexibility of your schedule. Don’t worry—online courses are every bit as viable as in-person courses at a university, provided the organization is accredited.

Once you complete your coursework, which can take as little as 11 months for a certificate, or as long as 26 months for an associate’s degree, you’re free to pursue your medical coding or billing exam. If you pass the exam, you’ll be certified, and can seek employment as soon as you’re ready.

People usually opt for the certification route, simply because it’s a little more straightforward, takes less time, and doesn’t necessarily confine you to a brick-and-mortar university.

What’s The Pay Like?

Of course, if you’re pursuing a new career, you want to know if it can pay the bills or not. Medical billing and coding are in demand as I mentioned, so the salary is usually quite competitive. The average national salary for a medical coding technician is about $54,000 per year. Your salary will depend on your level of experience and the company you work for, but it will also depend on the coding specialization you choose.

For instance, a Medical Records Coding Manager can make around $71,000 per year. There are several paths you can take—from billing specialist to coding manager to medical director. There’s plenty of room for advancement, and you can always go back to school and pursue further education to advance in your career. This is a great entry-level position for people new to the medical field who don’t necessarily want to take care of patients.

Where To Start

First, you’ll need to research the best medical coding programs out there. Decide if you want to go online or attend a traditional university. Ultimate Medical Academy is a good option, and offers distance learning anywhere in the country. You can earn your certification or your degree through this academy.

There are thousands of choices, so be sure to narrow it down a bit and thoroughly research the schools you’re choosing between. Next, map out where you want to go with your new career. Do you plan on pursuing that position as medical director some day? This could change what kind of education you might need.

Complete your coursework, pass your exam, and get out into the workforce. It’s a quick transition without too much financial risk—perfect for busy parents, fresh high school graduates, or people who are tired of their 9-5 job at the retail store.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

Recommended for you

What Do You Think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *