Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, How Can I Become One?

It’s tough to get jobs right now, and that’s why many people are starting to turn to the internet to look for online jobs or thinking about going back to school to get more education.  One great idea is to look at an industry that is always booming, and that’s the medical industry.  An occupation as a certified billing and coding specialist is one possibility for making more money and finding more job openings.  And it’s one that doesn’t require that you pay for a lot of education.

What is a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist?

Technically most people aren’t billing and coding specialists, but rather one or the other.  As a medical coding specialist, your job is to translate the activities in a healthcare setting into alphanumeric codes which are used for billing and other procedures.  If you were to become a certified billing specialist, your job would be to send out bills to customers and insurance companies to see to it that doctors and nurses get paid.

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While the majority of billing and coding specialists work at hospitals, clinics, surgical centers, and other environments where healthcare is administered, some also work for insurance companies, helping those companies make sense of the bills they receive.  So there really are a lot of choices when it comes to your work environment, which is another plus if you decide you’re interested in this career track.

The focus of this website is to help you to learn about the job of a medical coding specialist and the kind of training which it entails, as well as the benefits which can come with the job.  So let’s talk a little more about the job.  Why is medical coding so important?  Think about how complex medical conditions are, and how complicated the many treatments and tests associated with them can be.  It can be pretty confusing to try and talk about them.  In order to objectify and simplify these many activities, healthcare workers have developed alphanumeric codes which can be applied to each condition, test and treatment.  This gives everyone in the health industry a common reference point in complicated and confusing situations.

Alphanumeric codes provide administrators with an easy way to see staffing problems as well as areas of the hospital where equipment might be required, which makes the business of running the hospital easier.  When multiple doctors work on a single patient, they can more readily understand each others’ records and do more consistent work on the patient.

The main purpose of alphanumeric codes however is for billing.  If you are the medical coder, once you have coded the clinic activities relating to a particular patient, you will pass on those codes to a medical biller.  The biller can create an accurate bill reflecting the appropriate charges (medical billers must also be well versed in alphanumeric medical codes), and can then send the bill out to the recipient, be it the patient or the insurance company or a government program (government health agencies also sometimes employ coders and billers).

Advantages of Becoming a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

So now that you understand what medical coders and billers do, why would you want to become one?  What are the benefits of going into this field?  Admittedly, the salary is not the biggest attraction, though it isn’t bad in light of how little many people earn these days.  The median pay for medical records and health information technicians (including medical coders and billers) in 2010 was $32,350 per year according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The median pay per hour was $15.55.

The BLS also indicates however that jobs in this field are growing rapidly, much faster than average, and that between 2010 and 2020, they predicted 37,700 new jobs would appear.  Considering that we live in a time when demand for many job roles is actually shrinking, this is a good incentive in itself to become a medical billing and coding specialist.  Why will demand most likely continue to grow?  People are surviving longer and longer, but not necessarily in great health.  Doctors and nurses and other medical professionals are in increasing demand to treat the increasingly old population.  Since those medical workers need to be paid, administrative support roles like medical billing and coding are predicted to grow as well.

So there’s the job security aspect, but that’s not the only benefit of going into this field either.  The other major draw is flexibility.  Since the job is in demand throughout the country, it should give you some degree of freedom as far as where you’re going to live.  You should be able to find a job in a big city, small city, or even a small town in a rural area.  Moreover, you get to decide what kind of work environment you want.  You can work for a government agency or insurance company in an office, or you can choose to be part of an active medical environment.  Big hospitals, small clinics, and specialized medical facilities all need coders and billers.

Becoming a medical coder or biller also gives you the opportunity to apply for online jobs.  Work at home jobs are not nearly as common as they first appear, which you’ll quickly discover if you’re looking for one.  Many advertised positions aren’t even real, but medical billing and coding jobs are legitimate.  So if you have the training and certification, you can work from the comfort of your own home.  Working at home allows you to spend less time and money commuting, which increases the value of the salary which you earn.  Many work at home roles pay comparable salaries to the gigs you can get at clinics and hospitals.

To get started, you’ll need to find a school online or offline which can give you the training you need in alphanumeric codes and the other knowledge which you need to become certified in the medical coding field.  Once you take the exam you’ll be ready to start applying for jobs!