As the large population of baby boomers age, the need for more professionals within the medical field also increases. The good news is you don't have to a doctor, nurse, or tech to take advantage of these job opportunities. Non-medical support staff is also needed, particularly in hospital and private practice billing offices. The following guide can walk you through the basics of billing and coding so you can determine if it is the right career choice for you.
Are billing and coding the same thing?
No. Billing ir more akin to accounting – a biller simply inputs the coded invoices into a software program so that the medical office, insurance, and patient all receive a copy. Coding is more in depth, as there are three major coding systems in use by various insurance companies and hospitals. A coder must learn these systems fluently, as well as master the major coding and billing software options available. There is generally a higher demand for those with the coding knowledge, since this is a harder to learn skill than just billing.
How long is training?
This depends. There are courses designed to prepare you for billing-only certification that take from a few weeks to a couple of months. For those desiring a coding or coding and billing career, longer programs are generally recommended. You can opt for just certification in coding, which opens up many job opportunities and can be completed in a year to 15 months. Two-year associates degrees of applied science are also an option.
How can one choose between programs?
The first step is to determine what employers in your area prefer for medical coders. You can do this by scanning certification and degree requirements on local job postings, or by contacting the HR departments of hospitals and clinics in your area. A certification program should be considered the bare minimum, but a degree program is a better choice if that is what is preferred by local employers.
What must a coder learn?
There are several aspects a coder must master. These include basic anatomy as well as medical and diagnostic terms. This allows the coder to translate medical documents into the billing code system. They must then master the three coding "languages," as well as how to use the input and billing systems. Regular training updates, even after receiving your certification and a job, are also necessary in order to keep abreast of industry changes.
If coding sounds like a career you would like to pursue, contact a medical coding training program, such as Coding Clarified, for more information.