The debate over health care in our country is far from resolved. Some defend the rights of insurance companies, saying that the technological advancements in medicine must be accounted for; that there is no free lunch. Still others say that universal free health care ought to be an inalienable right. As it stands now, most of us still pay for our health and well being. If you have to pay for health care, you probably want the person handling the bills to be the best they can be. The career of a Medical Biller revolves around just this concept. Medical billers and Medical Coders are also sometimes known as a Medical records and health information technicians. Medical Coders are billers with a specialty in the codes used to organize patient data for billing.
In order to carry out their job successfully, these professionals will need to collect and manage the sum total of all information on each and every patient, from every visit and treatment. In their line of work, Medical Billers use an advanced form of software known as EHR (electronic health records) to manage patient data. When you become a Medical Biller, your responsibilities will include keeping track of patient data, and regularly meeting with, calling or emailing other healthcare workers as to the latest patient information. All of this data is then used by the Medical Biller to calculate reimbursement from insurance companies, or public health providers such as Medicare or Medicaid. These health professionals do not interact directly with patients. They work mostly with computers and other technology, usually at a standard rate of 40 hours a week.
Medical Coding or Medical Billing positions are available in hospitals, and many other facilities, including private offices, home health organizations and nursing homes. Some can even work from home.
Education and Certification for Medical Billers is not currently nationally regulated. But as with any field, the more education and credentials you have, the better your personal job outlook will be. Training programs only take two years at the most to complete.
Future Medical Billers will want to look into either an Associate’s degree, or the more preferred Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credential, which is obtained after a 2 year course of study and an exam. The medical billing exam for certification is known as the Certified Medical Billing Specialist® (CMBS). This exam and accompanying credential is offered by The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), and must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Those with this certification will have better luck in the job market and when it comes to career advancement.
For certification as a Medical Coder, seek a credential approved by one of the following:
- The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
- The Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC)
- Professional Association of Health care Coding Specialists (PAHCS)
- The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA)
Those studying to be certified as Medical Coders or Billers will take courses that cover both the technical and medical side of their professions. Often Medical Billers and Coders will continue their education throughout their career in order to remain relevant to the workforce.
The average salary of a Medical Biller is around $30,000, but some can make as much as $50,000 per year. Typically workers in government health care facilities will earn higher wages than those working in a physician’s office or hospital.
Employment for Medical Billers and Medical Coders is predicted to enjoy a 20 percent increase in the next few years. Not only is advancement in medical technology constantly creating new procedures to be billed and coded, the elderly population is living longer, and therefore requiring more overall care. Retirement and advancement in the field will also open up new prospects.