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Medical Billing and Coding Career Guide

Are you interested in becoming a medical billing and coding specialist? There are a number of details worth exploring as you determine which training program is your best first step on your path to this new career. Will you need to go to school? If so, how long will it take you to finish your training course?

From certification to state-specific regulations, there is a great deal of industry knowledge available that you should understand before diving in.

Below, we have outlined some answers to a few of the most common questions about the career outlook for a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, and the medical industry you will be joining.

What Is a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist?

Medical billers and coders are sometimes also referred to as health claims specialists. These professionals are the individuals responsible for processing health insurance claims for doctors' offices, hospitals, and all other healthcare facilities.

Medical billing and coding specialists are the individuals who work in a healthcare facility who perform everyday administrative tasks such as entering the correct codes into patients' Electronic Health Records, or reviewing claims to make sure medical coding is accurate on all patient and facility files.

What Does a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Do?

The day to day workflow of a medical billing and coding professional is very straightforward. These individuals predominantly create and send medical claims for health insurance companies and patients.

A health office’s medical biller is responsible for reporting information to insurance companies so that patients can be billed for the correct amount. Once the insurance company has paid its portion, medical billers are then additionally in charge of having the remaining bill balance drawn up and sent to the patient.

Other medical biller responsibilities include following up on unpaid claims, clarifying discrepancies in paperwork, arranging payment plans for patients who need them, obtaining pre-authorizations for certain medical procedures, reviewing bills, confirming patient eligibility, and more.

The majority of medical billing and coding job applications will list the following items as necessary skills for medical billing and coding specialists:

  1. Proficiency with computers and medical billing software
  2. Knowledge of unfair debt collection practices and insurance guidelines
  3. Understanding of primary code classifications: ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, CPT and HCPCS
  4. Communication skills with patients/healthcare companies
  5. Basic accounting and bookkeeping practices

How Much Money Do Medical Billing and Coding Specialists Make?

The amount of money you can make as a medical billing and coding professional can vary slightly depending on which state in the US you will be working within.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a medical billing and coding professional was $44,090 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,800 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,370. To view annual salary information for medical billing and coding specialists broken down state by state, see the below information from Zip Recruiter’s 2020 reports:

New York: $45,722 per year
Massachusetts: $50,533 per year
New Hampshire: $44,173 per year
Maryland: $45,316 per year
Hawaii: $50,542 per year

Don’t see your state listed? Find a full list of medical billing and coding salaries by state here.

How to Become a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in medical billing and coding, the first thing you need to do is acquire a high school diploma or GED equivalency. If you are past the traditional high school age as a student- or do not have a high school diploma but are interested in pursuing one, there are online high school options available that you could take advantage of on the pathway to your career as a medical billing and coding professional.

Additionally, it is important for medical billing and coding job candidates to have some basic experience in science and algebra. Although there are no post-secondary credits needed in order to start working as a medical biller and coder, having some basic understanding of these subjects will help you best perform in your role.

According to the Healthcare Career Systems organization,

“There is specific training that needs to be completed before companies will hire a new medical biller and coder. The precise nature of the job requires that all medical billers and coders be well versed in their particular area of expertise. Certification programs are offered by technical institutes throughout the country. These programs teach all the intricacies of medical billing and coding.

Within these program curriculums, students learn extensive medical terminology along with proper insurance protocol. Several procedures involving medical billing and coding are also taught and are combined with the proper ways to manage computer databases.

States do not make it a requirement for medical billers and coders to hold a certification, although most employers will demand some type of formal training before hiring new employees.”

If you are a high school graduate in need of more formal medical billing and coding training, Ashworth College offers an online, self-paced medical billing and coding course. In this online course you will work with real medical practice management software and medical coding reference books. These online lessons give you what you need to complete the program in as few as four months if you are interested in starting fast.

How to Write a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Resume.

If you are applying for a job as a medical billing and coding professional, it’s important for you to highlight all the skills specific to the field that you are capable of performing.

A skills-based resume will help you emphasize all the industry-specific things that you learned in medical billing and coding school. A skills-based resume is also the right place for you to emphasize any internship experience if you spent any time interning or working in a medical office or pharmacy, emphasize your education if you received any formal training from a medical billing and coding program, and any technical skills worth highlighting. Below is a sample list of skills you should list on a medical billing and coding resume:

  1. HCPCS
  2. Medical terminology
  3. Insurance terminology
  4. HIPAA/Patient confidentiality
  5. Data entry
  6. Data management
  7. Electronic health records
  8. Microsoft Office systems (Word, Excel, Office)
  9. Medical billing and coding software
  10. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance claims

If you are an Ashworth student or graduate and need help putting together your resume, be sure to reach out to your student advisor or student community for tips and advice on putting together the perfect resume.

Learn How to Become a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist With Ashworth College.

The online medical billing and coding training program at Ashworth College was built to provide a convenient, flexible learning experience to busy students who don’t want to put their lives on hold in order to go back to school. The program can be completed online, from the comfort of your own home, at your own pace.

The course was developed by medical billing and coding subject matter experts with first-hand experience in the field who know how to help you succeed. Not only that, this program is affordable, allowing students to opt for 0% interest monthly payment options if they are unable to pay for the course in full. For more information on how to get started in this program, call to speak with an admissions counselor