Medical billing and coding are not the same, but they work hand in hand. Coding happens after medical services are performed. Each service has a code assigned to it so that insurance companies can determine if they will cover and how much will be covered. Billing happens after the service is coded. Billers transfer the codes to the insurance forms.
It may sound simple, but medical billing and coding requires a good educational background and great attention to detail. The salary starts at around $35,000 per year, according to Meditec Training School.
One must have a strong knowledge of medical terminology, insurance billing procedures and legal requirements to have a successful career.
Those with a background in medicine may find it easy to transition in medical billing and coding. However, if one does not have that background, there are many medical billing and coding training programs. Local community colleges often offer such courses, and there are also many online courses in medical billing and coding.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many employers prefer to hire those who have earned a credential.
The American Academy of Professional Coders offers the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential. It requires coders to pass a 150-question, multiple-choice exam that covers topics such as coding guidelines, medical terminology, pathology and body systems. The fee is $300, and there is a discount for AAPC students.
The Board of Medical Specialty Coding offers the Specialty Coding Professional credential in several areas such as anesthesia, cardiology, pain management, radiology and urology. Specialty coders who have 3-5 years of experience can obtain the Advanced Coding Specialist or ACS credential. Both credentials require passing an open book exam.
Many employers want to hire someone with at least two years' experience. If the job allows for someone to work from home, the years of required experience can increase. This can be problematic for those entering a career in medical billing and coding, but there is hope. According to MedHunter, some suggestions include looking for work in underserved places such as assisted living facilities and contacting your local chapter of the American Medical Billing Association.
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