The field of medical billing and medical coding is experiencing a 22% increase in the number of jobs available through the year 2022 according to projections made by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. How many job categories can say that these days?
For the sake of clarity, these two jobs are often spoken of together, but they are actually two separate disciplines. You can become a medical biller and not have a college degree or a certification. Medical coders however are required to have a certificate, obtained by completing training and taking an exam which can be done online or in a classroom, as long as it is authorized by the American Association of Professional Coders. Coders are required to study anatomy and physiology among many other topics, in order to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the codes they will be working with in their profession.
Currently, the shortage of qualified candidates for these positions is the main reason their salaries are on the increase. These salaries should stabilize though once market demand is met and more people train for these positions. There are several reasons why demand is on the upswing, namely the graying of the country’s population, and the introduction last October of ICD-10, the new international medical billing codes. Considering that the new codes now number 70,000, up from 17,000, it is quite possible that some currently employed as medical coders will leave their positions for another line of work, or retire, not wishing to learn the new system. This change will require new employees to enter the field to replace them. Some have predicted a possible dip in productivity as current and new coders get used to working with a system that is much more complicated than the prior one.
As a medical coder you will be responsible for collecting the contents of a patient’s medical visit or procedure and codifying it using the ICD-10 system so that insurance companies can determine how much to reimburse the physician. A medical coder must be able to work quickly and accurately in order to submit as many claims as possible. However, accuracy is the most important factor, because a claim with errors will be returned for correction and this will slow down the process and consequently, the reimbursement to the physician. Coders as a rule are not required to have contact with external parties regarding the claim.
Medical billers, however, contact individuals every day by phone or perhaps email concerning insurance company matters, claims that are in collection, physician offices and often, patients. They review billing statements for mistakes before sending them out and often work with the coders on correcting these items. Only then will the medical biller put together the bill that will be sent to the payer (often the insurance company). Accuracy is paramount for the medical biller as well as the coder.
When you compare the two jobs, medical billers tend to succeed if they have good people skills, are able to converse on the telephone easily, and enjoy figuring out the pieces of the puzzle, so to speak. The job of medical coders is a good fit for those who do not mind performing more solitary paperwork and are very good at recalling details. If you think medical billing or coding might be right for you the one thing you should do is to honestly ask yourself which job sounds like the right fit for you. Then you will be on your way to a rewarding new career that suits you and at which you can succeed.