Insurance Billing Specialist: Educational Requirements

Insurance billing specialists, also referred to as health information technicians, are trained in the preparation, processing and filing of health insurance claims. These billing specialists may be required to hold at least associate's degrees as well as professional certification.

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Education Requirements for Insurance Billing Specialists

Aspiring insurance billing specialists often hold associate's degrees in applicable majors, such as health information technology. This degree program includes courses in medical terminology, health-information management, medical coding and health-information law. Students may also be required to complete internships or practicums, in which they gain supervised experience in medical office settings.

Some community colleges and vocational schools also offer associate's degrees and certificates geared toward insurance billing specialists. These programs train students to prepare and process claims both on paper and electronically. They may also include introductory courses in anatomy, diagnostics and procedures.

Certification

In addition to holding associate's degrees, aspiring insurance billing specialists may be required to obtain professional certification. In fact, most employers favor those who have the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential. The RHIT credential is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (www.ahima.org). To be eligible, applicants must be graduates of associate's degree programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. They must then pass an exam that tests their understanding in areas such as healthcare information standards, classification systems and legal issues.

Other Qualifications

Since their main duties include recovering medical records and transferring medical information to physicians and other professionals, insurance billing specialists must have strong clerical skills. They conduct much of their work on computers, so technological aptitude is also important. Specialists also need to be well organized and efficient while executing their tasks, and must have a strong eye for detail to ensure the accuracy and thoroughness of medical records.

Advancement Requirements

With experience and higher education, such as a bachelor's or master's degree, insurance billing specialists may advance to upper-level positions in health information technology. They might, for example, become health information managers. Insurance billing specialists pursuing advancement in the field might also benefit from earning specialty certification.

Jobs for medical records and health information technicians are expected to increase 21% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The bureau also reported in May 2012 that these workers' median salary was $34,160.

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