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A Day in the Life of a Medical Billing and Coding Professional: What to Expect

Written by Lauren Ambrosio on Thursday, 22 June 2023. Posted in Healthcare

Girl with Apple laptop sitting at table.

Medical billing and coding may be a good option if you’re interested in getting into the healthcare industry, but patient care isn’t for you. Billing and coding professionals are currently in demand, just like the rest of the industry.

So, if working directly with patients doesn’t work for you, you can still pursue a rewarding, well-paying, and in-demand job. If you’d like to learn more about medical billing and coding as a career, how to get started, and your course options, keep reading!

We will also share three real-world examples of this role in different healthcare settings. But first, let’s break down what this job entails and what you need to get started in this position.

What is medical billing and coding?

Medical billing and coding professionals review patient records and assign appropriate medical codes to diagnoses and procedures. They must be accurate and possess strong communication skills in order to speak with insurance companies to process claims.

A medical coder is required to maintain high standards of excellence as they adhere to federal regulations and HIPAA to protect patient confidentiality. Coders and billers have to stay abreast of all changes to coding regulations and guidelines to perform their job to the highest standard.

The steps to becoming a medical coding or billing professional

Unlike many healthcare career paths, medical coding and billing professionals do not require a two- or four-year college degree. There are some certifications and training required to get a job, but the journey is much shorter than one for RNs, CNAs, radiology technicians, etc.

Your individual path may look different, but the basic steps to take if you want to pursue a career in medical billing and coding are as follows:

  1. Earn a high school diploma or GED.
  2. Complete a medical billing and coding diploma or certification program, like Ashworth College's Medical Billing and Coding Career Diploma.
  3. Obtain professional certification, such as the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) credential from the National Healthcareer Association.
  4. Gain experience through internships or entry-level positions.

Read more: What is Medical Billing & Coding?

Is medical coding and billing a difficult job?

How challenging or stressful a job is depends on an individual's skills, background, and aptitude for the tasks involved. The work environment also factors into how hard this role can be. Some aspects of the job that may be challenging include:

1. Attention to detail

Medical billing and coding professionals must be precise and accurate, as mistakes can lead to denied insurance claims or compliance issues.

2. Learning medical terminology and coding systems

Professionals in this field must become familiar with medical terminology and the coding systems used for diagnoses (ICD) and procedures (CPT, HCPCS).

3. Staying current with industry changes

In this role, one must keep up with changes in healthcare regulations, insurance policies, and coding updates.

4. Managing deadlines and multitasking

Professionals in this field often need to juggle multiple tasks and meet tight deadlines. The level of difficulty can depend on the workload.

Even with its challenges, this job can offer a stable income, opportunities for growth, and the satisfaction of contributing to the healthcare system without being involved in direct patient care.

Read more: What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

A day in the life of a medical billing and coding professional

Your day-to-day experiences will be different, but let’s take a look at three examples of what a typical day may look like for a medical billing and coding professional in different healthcare environments.

Example 1: Large hospital system

In a multi-facility healthcare system, a medical billing and coding professional might start their day by reviewing patient charts from the previous day. They'll verify and collect information from healthcare providers and assign the appropriate medical codes to diagnoses and procedures. Throughout the day, they might collaborate with other medical coders, ensuring consistency and accuracy in the coding process.

In addition to coding, they may handle billing tasks, such as submitting claims to insurance companies and following up on denied claims. They might also address any discrepancies or errors found during auditing, which is crucial in a large hospital system. By the end of the day, the medical billing and coding professional will have played a vital role in ensuring the smooth functioning of the hospital's billing process.

Example 2: Small dermatologist's office

This role may have a broader range of responsibilities in a small dermatologist's office. They might start their day by checking in patients, verifying insurance information, and updating patient records. As the day progresses, they will review patient charts and assign medical codes to the dermatologist's diagnoses and performed procedures.

The professional may also submit insurance claims, post payments, and follow up on unpaid claims. As part of a smaller team, they might occasionally interact with patients, address billing inquiries and clarify insurance coverage in person or via telephone. At the end of the day, their work ensures that the dermatologist's office runs efficiently and maintains accurate financial records.

Read more: What Jobs are in Doctor’s Offices?

Example 3: Telehealth organization

Working for an online healthcare organization, a medical billing and coding professional's day might begin with checking their email for updates to a healthcare provider or insurance company. They'll then review electronic patient records, assign appropriate medical codes, and handle billing tasks for telehealth services provided by the organization.

Throughout the day, the professional might communicate with other team members through video calls or instant messaging, discussing any coding or billing issues that may arise. They might also participate in virtual meetings, staying informed about changes in the organization's policies or industry regulations. With a remote work setup, the professional can manage their workload and adapt their schedule as needed, ensuring the accuracy and efficiency of the organization's medical billing and coding processes.

Medical billing and coding salary information

Medical coders earn an average annual salary of $46,660, depending on factors such as experience, location, and certifications. Entry-level positions typically start at a lower salary, but earning potential can increase with experience and additional certifications.

Comparing medical billing and coding to other healthcare careers

If you’re unsure about what job path to pursue in healthcare, it’s important to know that you have options, and no one way is the right way. There are other jobs in healthcare with similar formal education and training requirements that have comparable earnings potential and starting salaries. Here are some of the different jobs in healthcare in the same vein as billing and coding:

Medical assistant (average salary $38,190)

Someone in this role performs both administrative and clinical tasks in healthcare settings. They usually complete a diploma or certificate program, which typically takes around a year to complete.

Read more: Medical Assistant vs Medical Coder

Medical transcriptionist (average salary $47,825)

In this position, they convert audio recordings of physicians and healthcare providers into written documents. They generally complete a diploma or certificate program, which takes six months to a year.

Pharmacy technician (average salary $37,970)

These professionals assist pharmacists in dispensing medications and managing the pharmacy. They often complete a diploma, certificate, or associate degree program, which typically takes six months to two years.

Read more: Day in the Life of a Pharm Tech

Health information technician (average salary $55,411)

A vital role in any organization, this individual maintains and organizes patient medical records, ensuring accuracy and security. They usually complete a diploma or associate degree program in health information technology, which takes one to two years.

Patient services representative (average salary $35,350)

In this role, the healthcare staff member handles administrative tasks like scheduling appointments and managing patient records. They may complete a diploma or certificate program, although some positions only require a high school diploma.Can you become a medical coder or biller without any certifications or degrees?

While it is possible to obtain a job as a biller or coder without any certifications or degrees, it won’t be easy. Skipping formal courses, a new medical biller would need to find an employer willing to provide on-the-job training.

Unsurprisingly, most employers prefer to hire candidates with at least some formal education or certification in medical billing and coding. Having the credentials demonstrates that the candidate has the necessary knowledge of medical terminology, coding systems, and insurance billing processes. A diploma, certificate, or associate degree program in medical billing and coding can help you gain these skills and make you more competitive in the job market.

In addition to education, obtaining a professional certification can further enhance your qualifications. Certifications like the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) are widely recognized and respected in the industry.

In short, while it is possible to enter the medical billing and coding profession without formal education or certifications, your chances of finding a job and advancing in the field will be significantly improved if you come armed with credentials.

Start a rewarding career with Ashworth College

Medical billing and coding can be a rewarding career for those who prefer working behind the scenes and are interested in the medical field. With online courses like Ashworth College's Medical Billing and Coding Career Diploma, you can start your new career path from the comfort of your home.

If you're ready to take the next step towards a medical billing and coding career, visit our Medical Billing and Coding program page to learn more about our self-paced, flexible program. Enroll today and start working towards a brighter future in the medical field.

Let's talk about your educational goals. Call 1-800-957-5412