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Medical Billing and Coding

Many students are interested in pursuing a degree in health science. Working in the health care industry is not only monetarily rewarding, but it can be satisfying to work in a career where you actively make a difference and save lives. Unfortunately, many medical careers are difficult and involve making important decisions which directly impact patients.

If you do not do well in a high stress environment, it is best to avoid many common health science careers. Several career choices in the health industry do exist which do not involve directly treating patients.

Working as a medical biller or coder is one way to avoid stressful situations while still making a difference in the healthcare industry. Both professions require many of the same skills, such as knowing how to read medical charts.

Medical billers and coders do not have the same extensive training as other healthcare professionals, but they must have a basic understanding of medicine. Medical billers and coders handle a variety of administrative tasks, which requires knowledge of medical codes.

Both billers and coders frequently work alongside insurance companies. As both a coder and a biller, you must make sure the correct terminology and treatments are listed on insurance claims, otherwise, your patient may be charged for services not covered on their insurance. Medical billers and coders must be detail-oriented and understand medical shorthand and codes to succeed at their jobs.

Is medical coding and billing the same thing?

Medical billing and coding share many of the same skills, but they are not the same job. It is possible for the same employee to work as both a medical coder and a biller. Medical coders place a greater emphasis on accuracy, making sure all medical files are not only up to date, but use the correct medical codes.

Medical billers are more concerned with the financial side of working in a health care facility. Medical billers make sure patients are correctly billed and set up payment plans for patients who cannot pay their bills right away. They ensure the hospital is receiving the necessary payments as well. Medical billers and coders commonly work together to complete their jobs.

Coders go over medical records and make sure all the information is correct, while the billers ensure all the payments are made on time and insurance companies are charged the correct amount for each procedure or service.

Medical coders are often treated as translators in the hospital, taking complex medical jargon and turning it into terminology patients can easily understand. Medical coders must be comfortable working with other employee’s records. This includes physicians, nurses, therapists and any other specialists in the facility.

Medical coders commonly translate health diagnoses, which include the procedures a patient underwent as well as their chosen treatment plan. Correctly reporting this information is important, since most patients are treated by multiple doctors who do not always have the opportunity to speak to one another. All they have to work with is translated medical records.

Medical billers use the information provided by medical coders. It is impossible to create a bill or insurance claim without having medical code to report. This helps prove the patient received the necessary treatment and determines whether or not the patient must pay or if his or her insurance covers the expenses.

Medical billers often deal with confused patients as well who may not understand the charges on their bill. In these instances, medical billers act as translators by taking medical information and turning it into terms patients understand. When patients have unpaid bills, medical billers are the ones responsible for calling the patients and getting the correct payments.

Where do medical coders and billers work?

Medical billers and coders are found at various kinds of health care facilities. This can include hospitals, physician offices and nursing care facilities, but includes research laboratories as well. Outpatient clinics and mental health facilities also typically employ both medical billers and coders.

In addition to working in medical settings, many billers and coders work with educational facilities and medical suppliers. Private billing companies exist specifically for medical billers as well. The larger the medical facility, the more billers and coders are on staff.

What education do I need to work in medical billing and coding?

The exact requirements for medical billing and coding significantly vary depending on the state you work in and the employer you are applying with for an open position. Even if it is not required, billers and coders are encouraged to get some type of degree. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are the most common among billers and coders.

Medical coders often pursue certification from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Coders are certified through the American Health Information Management Association (AACP) in some instances. The AACP has a separate certification program for medical billers as well.

Whether you are getting certified for medical billing or coding, you must be prepared for long study sessions to prepare for the exams. Becoming a medical biller or coder is not easy but getting certified not only improves your odds of finding a job but helps you negotiate a higher starting salary.

Can I advance my career in medical billing or coding?

In most states, billers and coders do not need a degree or certification, but both options can be excellent paths towards career advancement. Many medical billers and coders go on to take management positions. They still help with coding and billing, but they assume additional responsibilities and have their own team of employees once they move into a management role.

What is the job outlook for medical billing and coding?

Medical billers and coders are both in constant high demand. The health science field is consistently growing. Health technology keeps advancing, and patients are always going to need medical treatment. As a result, hospitals and other health care facilities need coders and billers to keep up with the increase in patients. Many facilities employ multiple billers and coders. It is a competitive field, but most coders and billers can find work because of the sheer number of facilities accepting applications.