If you’ve ever considered a career in medical billing and coding, you’re making a good decision. The field is growing, and new graduates can expect to start off with a decent salary (around $40,000 per year).
What is billing and coding? What are the day-to-day responsibilities? How do you obtain the right training? Here’s your ultimate guide to the field of medical billing and coding. Whether you’re fresh out of high school looking for a career path or middle-aged and tired of your retail job, this guide will help you discover the road to a more rewarding career.
What is Billing and Coding?
First, let’s talk about what medical billing and coding actually is. A coder will take a report provided by a doctor or other healthcare provider and essentially translate that document into code for billing. There are thousands of different codes for medications, procedures, etc. that the coding specialist will need to translate. Then, the government agency or insurance company responsible for covering the costs of that medical procedure will better understand what they’re paying for.
So, what are some responsibilities that a medical biller/coder can expect on a daily basis?
- Payment Tracking: The coder will need to keep track of incoming payments to ensure that expenses are being met. This is an important function of a healthcare facility, and the responsibility that comes with the position is no laughing matter.
- Coding Properly: The success of coding and billing efforts depends largely on the accuracy of the coding specialist. You’ll need to be detail-oriented and have a good memory, so you can track and code procedures properly for billing.
- Fixing Rejected Claims: Claims aren’t always accepted, and it’s important that the procedure is still covered financially.
- Preparing and Sending Invoices: Once the medical procedure has been properly coded, it needs to be turned into an invoice and sent. The billing.coding specialist will ensure accurate invoices.
Often, employers combine billing and coding in a single job description. Technically, they’re two different jobs, but for the sake of this guide, we’ve combined them.
Career Pathway and Training
Now that we know what a medical biller and/or coder does, let’s look at the career path to get there. You’ll want to start by finding a medical billing and coding training program. Your program will either be entirely online or in a school setting, depending on if you choose a certification or a degree.
Medical billing and coding online is quick and usually more affordable. Many people choose online programs simply because they’re more flexible than in-person education. Many online schools have less strict timelines or allow students to work at their own pace. This is perfect for people who can’t afford to quit working to obtain an education, or for working parents and professionals who just don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Depending on the program, you could spend under $800 to get your coding/billing certification. Most local programs and online certifications fall in the $1,000-$3,000 range. If you want to obtain a degree, you’re likely going to obtain an associate’s degree. Depending on the college, this can cost anywhere from $10,000-$25,000 for the entire program.
Time To Complete
A billing and coding certification can be obtained in as little as 11 months. Associate degree programs vary, but for the most part, they take under 25 months. Most programs will be completed in about 18 months.
The good thing about medical degrees is that there are plenty of options for schooling. You don’t have to attend a large university if you don’t want to, and there are all kinds of job opportunities available so you can pick an environment that’s right for you.
Coders and billing specialists can find employment at doctor’s offices, special-care facilities, hospitals, and so much more. You’ll be considered an administrative position rather than a clinical one, so it’s more of a hands-off approach to the medical field.
Is medical billing and coding even a viable career? Will you find work? Luckily, the medical field as a whole is expected to grow over the next decade, and medical billing and coding is an essential part of that field. The job outlook is at around 26% growth through 2026, so you should have no trouble finding employment once you graduate.
A medical billing specialist or a medical coding specialist can expect to make anywhere between $40,000 and $55,000 per year. This depends on experience, education, and the healthcare provider you’re working for.
Overall, medical billing and coding offers a good career opportunity with benefits, little schooling, affordable tuition, and a good salary. If you’re looking for a new and rewarding/challenging career, this might be it!