We live in an era where the demand for a lot of professions is declining instead of growing. As if jobs aren’t already challenging enough to find, they are actually becoming scarcer in many fields. One field however which is expected to grow in the coming years is that of health information technicians such as medical billers and coders. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of jobs for medical billers, coders and other health information technicians will increase by 21 percent by the year 2020, which is faster than average for other occupations. That will represent an increase of 37,700 new positions.
So if you’re looking for a job not only with the present in mind but also the future, this may be a sensible route to choose. Of course, you have to have the right disposition for the work, but with many diverse work environments to choose from, this option can fit a lot of different work personalities. Factor in that billers and coders have fairly different occupations with different tasks, even though the knowledge required to become one or the other is quite similar, and you have even more opportunity to choose something which genuinely interests you.
Differentiating Between Jobs for Medical Billing and Coding
What is the difference between medical billing and coding jobs? If they are always referenced together, how do the job responsibilities for each title differ? Some professionals do both billing and coding, but most do one or the other. Medical coding is the process by which health information technicians convert the many conditions and procedures that unfold in their workplaces into alphanumeric codes that can easily be interpreted by doctors, insurance companies, government agencies, and other parties. Medical billers are the workers who then process claims forms using these medical codes and collect money for medical services rendered from the appropriate parties.
Medical coding and medical billing require different dispositions. Do you like to work on your own more than you like to work with customers? You might prefer a role as a coder, which is fully behind the scenes and doesn’t require you to deal with customers. If however you enjoy customer service, you may prefer to be a biller, since you’ll have the chance to deal with customers directly and to solve problems.
When you train for medical billing or coding, you’ll choose one of the two areas to concentrate in, but remember that you’ll be learning skills required for both fields. This close relationship between the jobs and skills required is one of the reasons that you typically will see the two jobs referenced side-by-side. Indeed, in small clinics, it isn’t uncommon for the coder on staff to also be the biller. It’s also very common for coders to become billers or vice versa. Some experienced coders and billers eventually go into business for themselves, opening up shop as contractors which do coding and billing for a number of different medical offices.
Jobs for Medical Billing and Coding Offer Many Advantages
Why go into business doing coding and billing? There are a number of reasons to consider one of these two fields as your next occupational focus. To start with, you get an opportunity to help others, even in an auxiliary position. If you become a coder, your codes will make it easier for doctors to see at a glance what is going on with a patient and to more efficiently carry out exams. Your codes may be used by the hospital staff to assess areas understaffed or underequipped, and to remedy the issue. Your codes will also streamline the billing process.
If you become a medical biller, you will get a chance to help patients directly. Patients oftentimes have questions about their bills and will turn to you for answers. Some patients also may have difficultly paying their bills, either because their insurance companies do not understand what is going on or because they cannot pay their share of cost up front. In these situations you can help to clarify matters for insurance companies and patients alike, so that everyone pays what they are responsible for. You can also set up payment plans for low income customers so that they can take care of their medical bills on a time schedule which they can afford and still get the help they need.
Jobs for medical billing and coding offer further benefits in terms of salary and work prospects. The salaries for these positions may not be the highest at $32,350 a year, on average, but that’s definitely better than minimum wage, and may be sufficient for one person to live with some degree of comfort on. There are also chances to advance and earn a higher wage—the highest earners in the field make more than $50,000 a year.
Perhaps the greatest advantage at this point in time however is simply the availability of work. It’s not easy to find a job in the current economy, and a lot of fields are growing slowly or not at all—some are even shrinking. The demand for medical coders and billers is already high compared to many industries, and is growing at a very fast rate compared to the average. Because of this, it’s an excellent choice if you are thinking not only about your current need for a job but also what you’ll need for the future.
It’s important in life to think ahead about what you’re going to be doing in the years to come. Since it doesn’t take long at all to learn to be a medical coder or biller, you can take care of your short term needs without compromising your long-term plans. You should be able to find work in the industry for years to come. Becoming well established in your profession during a challenging economic time means you should have even greater success when conditions improve.