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Medical Billing and Coding Job Options and Requirements

Medical billing and coding technicians are skilled in the complex system of medical invoicing for reimbursement and insurance. A common pathway for an entry-level position is completion of a degree or certificate program in the field. Many technicians go on to become certified in a specialty area of medical billing and coding.

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Medical Billing and Coding Job Options

Medical records and health information technician is a job title commonly used to describe several positions in this field. This can include technicians who specialize in coding, otherwise known as medical coders. Medical billing and coding professionals work in healthcare-related environments, including hospitals, physicians' offices or insurance companies.

Medical coders might choose to specialize in physician-based or hospital-based billing and coding. Additionally, some medical coders become specialized in a specific field of medicine, such as gastroenterology or pediatrics. These billing and coding specialists have knowledge about the specific procedures of these medical specialties as it relates to billing and coding.

Medical Billing and Coding Job Requirements

Entry-level positions typically require completion of a certificate or an associate's degree program in medical billing and coding. These programs introduce students to commonly used classification systems, such as ICD-9, CPT, DSM-IV and HCPCS. Students engage in coursework that covers medical terminology and pathophysiology. They are trained in medical insurance and the various public and private providers, such as Medicare or Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Additionally, medical coders must have an understanding of laws and ethics related to health insurance, medical billing and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Certification Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers typically prefer employees with certifications in the field. This certification is not mandatory, but can help with job prospects (www.bls.gov). The most common certification examination is the Certified Coding Assistant (CCA), which is administered through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). This exam is typically taken after graduating from a training program. After acquiring a few years of work experience, medical coders are eligible to sit for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) examination, which includes either a physician-based or hospital-based option.

Medical Billing and Coding Career Outlook

The BLS stated that the number of employed medical records and health information technicians was projected to grow 21% between 2010 and 2020, which was faster than average. These workers made a mean yearly wage of $36,770 in May 2012, according to the BLS.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics