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Medical billing and coding is a field that has many career options available. The variety of courses available can get you certified quickly, and the field itself will be growing in the next few years. However, if you’re interested in getting into the field, first you’ll need to know what you’ll be doing. Then you’ll need to know how to get certified and understand the difference between billing and coding.
Medical billing and coding online courses or university courses offer equal opportunities to get certified. However, online courses can take less time. There’s a process to getting into the field, and it starts with getting those certifications. Let’s look at how to get certified.
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How to Get Certified in Medical Billing and Coding
Getting certified is simple. With the right program, you can get certified in about 11 months. In less than a year, you’ll be in a new career path that offers a good salary, benefits, and an administrative position in the medical field. Additionally, it’s a career path that could allow you to work from home or even to run your own agency once you have gained some experience.
You’ll need to find a course that fits your budget and time constraints first. Check out online courses first. These often offer “finish at your own pace” options, so you don’t have to rush to get certified.
Once you complete your coursework, you can take the AAPC certification. Getting certified will cost a few hundred dollars, depending on the certification you’re pursuing.
Medical Billing and Coding Are Often Grouped Together
Medical billing and coding are often grouped together in a job description, simply because they’re so closely related. Billing and coding do depend on one another, but they’re not necessarily the same thing.
Employers will often hire medical billers and coders together and group them into teams. Or they will create positions where one person can handle both. In larger organizations, you’ll most likely have a team you’re a part of. However, smaller operations can get away with just one person who does both billing and coding.
What Is Medical Coding?
Every procedure, visit, or prescription—anything that can be billed in the medical field—has a code that goes with it. These codes help insurance companies better understand what they’re paying for. Coding involves processing and keeping records as well. A coding clerk might have to process, file, and code records and pass them off to a billing specialist.
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The standardized coding system separates documents into separate categories. These are:
A patient’s diagnosis is important to the billing process. The coder will turn a complex diagnosis into a simplified code for billing purposes.
An insurance company will want to know what treatments will be necessary to alleviate symptoms and even cure the diagnosis. Treatment can take days, weeks, or even years, and can evolve as the condition progresses or regresses.
What’s Been Provided
What medications or treatments has the patient already received? You’ll need to code everything from prescriptions to operations to doctor’s visits.
Any Unusual Circumstances or Complications
If there’s anything unique or unusual about a diagnosis or treatment, it could change the billing process and what’s covered.
There are several variations to the medical coding job description, but they all contribute to the same purpose. Leadership roles will, of course, carry different responsibilities than a clerk position. You probably won’t become a medical records manager without some experience first.
What Is Medical Billing?
The billing process is the next step after coding. Once everything has been coded properly, the billing department will create and send invoices and store the records properly. Proper storage is not only a method of organization, but it’s also a requirement. Privacy and security in health records is a top priority, and medical organizations can be held accountable for improper storage.
Medical billing and coding specialists, in general, make around $30-$40,000 per year, but certain niche jobs can pay more or less.
What Are the Career Choices in Medical Coding and Billing?
A medical billing and coding degree or certification can allow you to pursue several career choices, including:
- Medical billing specialist
- Records coordinator
- Medical coder
- Medical records clerk
- Health information clerk
- Medical records director
- Medical billing manager
- Records analyst
- Medical billing director
As a medical coder, you could also find employment in an attorney’s office for medical claims. The options are numerous, and the field is growing. There’s never been a better time to jump into an entry-level position as a medical billing or coding specialist.
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Medical billing and coding is a straightforward path into the administrative side of the medical field. If you’re more interested in technology, record-keeping, and management, this career path is right for you. Working in the medical field doesn’t necessarily mean taking care of patients face-to-face.
Start by finding an accredited academy or university where you can get your training done. Then, you’ll pay the fees for your exam and decide what exactly you want to do with your new credentials. Depending on the position, you can command a decent starting salary and work on moving up from there.