Medical Coding and Billing Jobs: A Growing Profession. Don’t Miss Out.

One of the fastest growing professions in the US is that of the medical records and health information technician, and two of the largest subsets of that profession are the related by separate roles of medical coders and billers.  Both of these jobs are projected to grow by 21 percent by the year 2020, leading to 37,700 new positions in the field.  As of 2010, there were 179,500 jobs for medical billers, coders, and other health information technicians, some of them filled, some of them still open.  The medical industry is one arena in which there is always a demand and rarely enough professionals to meet that demand, which means there is also a lot of opportunity for someone who is getting into the field.

medical coding and billing jobsFinding a job in the recession is very different from finding a job in good economic times.  For any one position you apply to, odds are you’re going to be up against several dozen candidates, all of them just as qualified as you are.  With such stiff competition, many would-be employees who are perfectly qualified to hold down good jobs find themselves unemployed and sometimes worse.  There are fewer candidates applying for open health information technician jobs, however, and not enough to fill all the medical billing and coding jobs which are available.  This means if you’re applying for jobs in this field, your experience may be more like the job hunting experience you might remember from times when the market wasn’t so competitive.

What is Involved with Medical Coding and Billing Jobs?

If you’re going to go into medical coding and billing, you definitely will want to know what is in store for you and what you’ll be doing on a day to day basis.  While you usually see the phrase “billing and coding,” “coding and billing” more accurately represents the order in which these professionals process their tasks as part of a system.  Everything starts with the medical coder.  Medical codes are an alphanumeric system used to simplify the complexities of what goes on in a hospital, clinic, surgical facility or other healthcare facility.  Coders may also work for insurance companies or government agencies that handle health-related benefits.  The codes stand for specific conditions and procedures, and summarize everything which takes place in a medical facility.  It’s a way of naming everything consistently so that different systems can interact and have a common basis for communication surrounding a case.

The main application for that kind of communication is of course billing.  Once everything has been classified into alphanumeric codes which everyone can understand at a glance, the biller uses those codes to send out bills to the right people.  It’s up to the medical billers to figure out whether an insurance company, government agency, or individual is responsible for a bill, and to make sure bills get to the right parties.  If there are questions about the bill, the biller will need to available to answer those queries, and if there is a problem getting in a payment on time, it’s up to the biller to work out payment plans.

As you can see, there are very similar skill sets which are needed for both professions.  Even if you don’t become a medical coder and instead pursue the role of biller, you’ll still have to learn all of those codes.  This is mostly a matter of rote memorization, however, so it doesn’t require all that much education, mostly just practice.  This is why it doesn’t take long to become a biller or coder.

On average, most coders and billers get their jobs with nothing more than a post secondary non-degree award.  This means that once you’ve graduated from high school or gotten your GED, you don’t need to get a university degree to become a biller or coder.  All you need is the appropriate certification, which you can get by taking a couple of courses at a college, trade school, or online university.  One of the main reasons that people choose to become coders and billers is the lack of education required.  Most people who go into this role don’t even show up with work experience in a related occupation.  Most positions are entry-level.  Of course, the higher up the ranks you climb, the more money you’ll make.  You may also find opportunities to make more money if you decide to specialize in a complex field of medicine.  Depending on where you work, you might also be able to make more money.  Relocation is easy with so many job openings everywhere in the US.

Salary Expectations for Medical Coding and Billing Jobs

Of course, the bottom line with medical coding and billing jobs is how much money you take home at the end of the week.  The median pay for medical billers and coders as of 2010 was $32,350 per year and $15.55 per hour.  This doesn’t make it a great profession if you are supporting a family by yourself and need more money, but if you’re just living on your own and want something consistent which you can use to pay your own bills, it might be perfect.  On the upper end, experienced billers and coders may make more than $50,000 per year.  So there is room for growth in terms of pay and responsibilities.

One of the reasons that this is considered a good job field however is that it offers some security.  Since the job outlook is so positive, there is compensation in the form of opportunity.  The demand for healthcare services of all kinds is projected to increase faster than the demand for most other occupations since we live in a world where people are living for long time periods.  Older people require more medical care than younger people, and thus there is a growing need for providers.  More healthcare services means more reimbursement claims, which means more openings for billers and coders as well as other healthcare information technicians.

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