Medical Billing and Coding

Medical Billing and Coding Schools

Medical billing and coding is crucial to the healthcare industry and those who decide to pursue a career in medical billing and coding may become part of fast growing industry[i] .

Although medical billers and medical coders are two separate jobs with different responsibilities, both are considered health information technicians who oversee health information data and work to ensure the quality and security of both paper and electronic records.

 
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What is the difference between medical coding and medical billing?

While medical coders and billers are essential for processing patient data and insurance information, there are differences when it comes to medical billing vs. medical coding.

Medical Billers

Medical billers make sure that patients are billed correctly, communicating with patients and insurance companies to ensure full payment. Billers must also understand coding language and how to read invoices. This might be a good career option to consider if you’re interested in going into the healthcare field and enjoy spending time analyzing data.

Medical Coders

While medical billers interact with patients and insurance companies, medical coders spend their time assessing data and coding it. Every duty in a medical office has a certain code assigned to it. Coders must know how to assign the appropriate codes by analyzing all parts of patient records, such as doctors’ notes, ordered laboratory tests, imaging studies, and other sources.

Medical coders and billers often work together to ensure invoices are properly paid and procedures are coded properly.

What do medical billing and coding specialists do?

Health information technicians, those who work in medical billing and coding, keep a medical facility organized and records accurate, acting as a connection either between the facility and the patients or the facility and insurance companies. The focus of both medical coding and medical billing is mostly administrative, managing the information and paperwork that is necessary to keep records and billing organized. Pursuing a medical billing degree online could be the first step to a career in the fast growing healthcare industry[ii]

Some responsibilities of medical billing and coding specialists may include:

  • Prepping insurance claims
  • Negotiating payment terms for insurance companies
  • Assigning clinical codes for medical cost reimbursement
  • Use patient outcome information for quality assessment

How do I become a medical billing and coding specialist?

Some schools have professional medical billing and coding certification programs that are self-paced, meaning that you could take as long as you need to finish each lesson or section. When you complete a lesson, you submit your work to the professor, and then you are sent the materials for the following lesson. Other schools have instructor-facilitated programs, where your work is graded by an instructor. Unlike self-paced programs, medical billing programs led by an instructor must be completed within a certain timeframe. It's important to note that the duration of your program depends on the school you attend and what kind of program you choose. 

What are some medical billing and coding careers?

Medical Records and Health Information Technician[iii]

Health information technicians are responsible for the management of health records, organizing critical patient information, like tests, examination results, and medical history. An important part of the job is to properly assign medical codes to patient information, which is necessary for insurance reimbursement. For this medical billing and coding career, you’ll typically need a professional certificate or an associate’s degree and you can expect to work in a hospital or physician’s office.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job projection through 2022:  22% (much faster than average)

Medical Assistant[iv] 

Unlike some medical billing and coding professionals, medical assistants often complete clinical as well as office tasks. They may check vital signs, perform blood tests, collect patient information and medical history, make patient appointments, and manage medical records. In most cases, medical assistants work in a physician’s office, and duties vary by employer.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job projection through 2022:  29% (much faster than average)

Medical Secretary[v]

Medical secretaries work in hospitals and healthcare practices to answer phones, set appointments, transcribe and prepare doctors’ reports, and bill insurance companies for services. Duties vary by position, but medical secretaries must typically have knowledge of medical billing and coding and understand medical terminology and procedures. 

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job projection through 2022:  36% (much faster than average) 

Medical Coding Specialist[iii]

Specialists in the field of medical coding usually have few other responsibilities outside of coding and billing. Working for hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, and other facilities, these experts use their knowledge of healthcare terminology and coding to translate medical information into universal codes, track patient data, and bill insurance companies. While certification is not mandatory, becoming a Certified Professional Coder may help you to qualify for more opportunities.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job projection through 2022:  22% (faster than average)

[i ]bls.gov/emp/ep_table_203.htm

[ii]bls.gov/emp/ep_table_203.htm

[iii]bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm

[iv]bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm

[v]bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm#tab-5

[vi]bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm#tab-6

[vii]news.aapc.com/index.php/2013/09/2013-salary-survey-coder-employment-on-the-rise/