Golden Age for a Career in Medical Billing

If you are thinking about switching to a career in the medical field, medical billing and coding might be what you’re looking for. On average, medical billing and coding specialists make around $61,000 annually, with no college degree required. These medical specialists help healthcare providers get paid for services billed to customers of insurance companies. Read here to learn more about the day-to-day of a Medical Billing and Coding specialist.

Increased demand for healthcare services by an aging population has caused a shortage in qualified medical workers, including billing and coding specialists. For those considering a switch to healthcare, now might be a good time to get started, here is why.

Medical billing and coding specialists don’t have to go through college to work in the field

One of the biggest roadblocks people face when thinking about a career in healthcare is affording a 4 year college degree. In contrast, working as a medical billing and coding specialist requires successful completion of a certification program which can take less than a year. The entire certification process costs between $1,200 and $2,500, making it amongst the most accessible but trained medical careers.

People don’t have to worry about not finding a job if they switch careers to medical billing and coding

If you are unhappy with your current job, you are not alone. A study by The Conference Board revealed that 53 percent of employees are unhappy with their jobs. Many people stay in jobs they hate for fear of not finding an opening in a new field. As is often the case, jobs go to the candidates with the most experience. This means those who switch careers may have to fight for even the less competitive positions.

However, medical billing and coding doesn’t follow that pattern. Medical billing and coding specialists are trained to work at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, medical laboratories, and other healthcare facilities. Most healthcare institution rely on these specialists to carry out their business, which means they will constantly need workers.
The demand for specialists is growing due to an aging population and a shift to modern billing and coding practices

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that demand for medical billing and coding specialists will grow 15 percent by 2024. By comparison, average worker demand for other careers will grow only 7 percent during the same period. This means people pursuing a career in the field are much more likely to find a job.

The reason is twofold. First, the number of senior citizens is growing, which increases demand for healthcare services. Second, health providers are updating to modern billing and coding practices, replacing paper with digital records. Both have caused an above average demand for qualified professionals who have the requisite technical skills.

Medical billing and coding is a career with flexible shifts and the potential to work from home

Large healthcare providers, such as hospitals, operate 24 hours a day. As a result, there is always demand for specialists willing to cover different shifts. There are positions which require working from nine to five, but non-traditional shifts have become popular as health providers outsource their billing cycles to third parties. Extra shift flexibility means that medical billing and coding might be a good choice for people looking for a second job.

Another attractive quality of medical billing and coding as a career choice is the potential to work from home. Innovation in technology and computer programs has allowed specialists to perform their job from any place with internet connection. This means a single specialist can offer their services to several healthcare providers at the same time, increasing income.
If you are looking for a career choice with abundant growth potential, medical billing and coding might meet those requirements. For example, someone starting off as a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) can be promoted to a managerial role as employers adapt to increased customer demand.

Medical billing and coding specialists enjoy good salaries

Medical billing and coding is among the best paid jobs not to require a college degree. In general, how much money a specialist makes depend on several factors, including location, experience, employer size and certifications. However, increased demand has raised salaries as well.

In 2015, workers without a certificate made $45,000 a year, while those those with one certificate receive closer to $51,000. By 2017, those numbers had risen to $49,000 and $54,000 respectively. Medical billing and coding specialists with advanced certifications earn even more. The latest survey from the AAPC reveals that employees holding advanced credentials such as Physician Practice Manager or Professional Compliance Officer make between $65,000 and $74,000 annually.

Starting A Career In Medical Billing And Coding

If medical billing and coding sounds interesting, this position is in high demand and pays well. In the next few years, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that job positions for medical coding and billing professionals will grow by 21 percent. However, healthcare providers have reported a shortage of qualified specialists to manage growing numbers of patients and procedures.

These medical specialists help healthcare providers get paid for services billed to insurance companies. Salaries are about $75,000 annually for well trained specialists.

Read this article to learn more about why it’s a good time to be a Medical Billing or Coding specialist.

What Is Medical Billing And Coding?

Medical billing is the work of following up on claims and receiving payment for health insurance companies. Medical billing and coding professionals are tasked with managing payment information. They assist healthcare providers with patient data, from initial appointment through final payment. Although medical billing and coding are separate processes, they are related and often performed by the same employee.

Medical billers make sure healthcare providers are paid by billing both patients and insurance companies. To do so, they collect information about the patient, including their health coverage, personal details, medical history, and report on which procedures were performed. Medical billers compile a document commonly referred to as a “claim”, which includes all the information collected along with amounts to be paid. Claims are given to insurance companies and patients at the end of the billing process.

Medical coders on the other hand, review clinical statements and assign standard codes to each service. Procedure codes are used to standardize which procedures were performed by a healthcare provider. Medical coders use two standards, known as Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) to organize procedures into codes. Diagnosis codes describe why a particular procedure had to be performed.

A medical biller and coder is in charge of managing the entire billing cycle. They are also responsible for checking that each medical claim is compliant, which means that it has no format errors or inaccuracies. Nowadays, medical billers and coders rely on computer software to streamline the billing process. The complexity in these systems requires several technical skills. As a result, most medical billing and coding specialists enjoy good salaries.

How Much Money A Medical Biller and Coder Makes?

The amount of money a medical biller and coder can make will depend on location, employer, years of experience, and completed certifications. According to the American Academy for Professional Coders (AAPC), the average medical biller earns around $61,000 annually. Workers who are not certified earn approximately $45,000 a year, while employees with at least one certification receive closer to $51,000 annually.

Read this article to learn more about the best paid positions in medical coding and billing.

The salary of medical billers and coders is heavily affected by which certification they complete. Those who are certified as Professional Medical Auditor, Physician Practice Manager and Documentation Expert earn around $65,000 each year. The best paid certifications are Professional Coding Instructor and Professional Compliance Officer, with annual salaries of around $75,000. As of 2017, medical billing and coding is among the best paid jobs not to require a college degree.

What Do You Need To Become A Certified Medical Biller and Coder?

All you need to become a medical biller and coder is a high school diploma and willingness to learn. Although there are associate’s degrees in medical billing and coding, having one is not required to work in the field. Institutions like the AAPC offer courses that teach most fundamental skills medical billers and coders need, at a fraction of the cost it would take to attend college.

The second step would be to gain work experience. Although having work experience is not necessary to become a certified medical biller and coder, obtaining two to three years of experience is highly recommended. The certification process is thorough and requires advanced knowledge of medical terminology and practices, which often can only be acquired through work. Hospitals, clinics and insurance companies are common workplaces where internships are available to newly trained medical billers and coders.

The third step would be to pursue a specialist certification. Institutions like AAPC offer over twenty different certification programs that adapt to the needs of a medical biller and coder. Most specialists begin with a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Professional Biller (CPB) certificate. According to their needs, specialists can also pursue other certificates, such as Certified Outpatient Coder (COC) or Certified Physician Practice Manager (CPPM). Most certificate programs can be completed in under twelve months at an affordable price.

How Affordable Is A Medical Billing And Coding Certificate?

Becoming a certified medical coding and billing specialist is more affordable than people might think. Associations like the AAPC offer training programs that cost between $1,500 and $2,000, though there are some additional expenses to consider. For example, the Certified Professional Biller (CPB) training program requires students to have completed medical terminology and anatomy courses, which cost an additional $1,000. However, they are not mandatory and people with prior knowledge in both areas can skip those additional courses.

To complete a training program, students must purchase code books and become members of whichever institution issues the certificate. This can add up to around $300 in additional expenses. However, members usually have access to special discounts when enrolling in training programs. For example, the AAPC offers members permanent discounts of as much as 30 percent on training programs, code books and related courses.

People who complete a training program must sit for a certification exam to receive their certificate. The exam costs around $300, has 150 questions, and takes 6 hours to complete. In total, becoming a certified medical billing and coding specialist can cost between $1,200 and $2,500, depending on which institution and training program students choose. In contrast, obtaining an associate’s degree in medical billing and coding from an accredited college can cost as much as $20,000. The difference is that certifications focus only on medical topics, while an associate’s degree includes general educational courses.

As demand for medical specialists rises, new opportunities will appear for people pursuing a career in the healthcare industry. For many low-income families, starting a career in medical billing and coding might be the way out of financial hardship. With so many affordable options to get certified, there has not been a better time to start working for a brighter future.