How to Become a Medical Biller & Coder?
Starting a Career in Medical Billing and Coding
A medical billing and coding career is perfect for the person who wants to work in the non-clinical side of the healthcare industry. Medical coders are essential to the functioning of the healthcare industry. They are the common link between patients, doctors, and insurers, making sure claims are filed correctly, practice income is maximized, and patients are billed accurately.
Medical billing and coding specialists may work in doctors’ or dentists’ offices, hospitals, or other medical facilities.
Medical coding is the assignment of codes that describe the condition a patient has and the services and procedures that patient receives during an office visit. A medical billing and coding career can be both personally and financially rewarding for the person with the proper training and certification.
Educational Requirements for Becoming a Certified Medical Coder
Ideally, someone who wants to become a medical coder should lay a strong foundation while still in high school, by taking classes in the sciences and developing good study habits. Coding certificate programs at technical or trade schools are designed to prepare students for a medical billing and coding career and for earning certification that demonstrates mastery of the subject matter.
Depending on the certification program, a student may pursue more than one certification, which can broaden career options even more. In general, the student who wants to become a certified medical coder will study a range of topics including:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- HIPAA (laws related to patient confidentiality)
- CPT procedural coding
- Computer programs used by medical coders
- How healthcare reimbursement works
- Diagnostic coding under the ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding standards
Experience That Can Help the Aspiring Medical Coder
Young people still in high school who are interested in a medical billing and coding career can pave the way by taking high school courses in biology, chemistry, algebra, keyboarding, and other computer skills. Working in a clerical position in a hospital, nursing facility, or doctor’s office can give the prospective medical coder an idea of the working environment, pace, and day-to-day dynamics of the healthcare provider setting. If clerical experience in a medical office isn’t possible, jobs in other types of professional offices can help prepare a person for the responsibilities and expectations placed on coding professionals.
Certification Types and What They Mean
The American Academy of Procedural Coders (AAPC) offers three types of certification for people interested in a medical billing and coding career. The Certified Professional Biller (CPB) credential demonstrates the student is educated and up-to-date regarding reimbursement methodologies, claim submission, and the insurance industry. The CPB credential prepares the student to work in a doctor’s office, other outpatient facility, or insurance company (as a claims examiner).
The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential demonstrates mastery of coding in physician office setting, as well as the ability to read a medical chart and assign the correct diagnosis, procedure, and supply codes for a range of clinical cases. The Certified Inpatient coder (CIC) credential prepares students for a medical billing and coding career at an inpatient facility like a hospital or skilled care facility.
AAPC Credentialing for Medical Coders
The AAPC exams (CPB, CPC, and CIC) can be explored further by going through the menus on the AAPC website. There you can learn about the testing process and how to apply to take the exams. If you choose an educational program that is AAPC-based, your school will help you know when and how to apply to take them. Additionally, the AAPC has a continuing education requirement that is necessary for maintaining coding certifications. These requirements may be fulfilled through a combination of approved activities on the job.
Why Job Prospects for Medical Coders Are Bright?
The medical coding and billing career is expected to become increasingly important over the next several years. Medical practices are in the process of switching from the ICD-9 coding standard to ICD-10, and increased hiring is expected. Even after the ICD-10 transition, however, demand is expected to remain strong. More Americans have health insurance than a few years ago, and the over-65 population is growing rapidly as the baby boom generation reaches retirement. These people will require more medical services with age, indicating strong continued demand for medical services and the coding and billing required to keep healthcare facilities running.
SOCHi offers a 900 clock hour educational program for those interested in pursuing a medical billing and coding career. The program prepares students for the CPB, CPC, and CIC exams, and for the exciting and well-paid career that can follow certification. If you would like to know more, please contact us at any time. We would be delighted to hear from you.
Revision Disclaimer: As of September of 2018, SOCHi no longer provides AAPC certification for our Medical Billing & Coding students through our curriculum. As our students grow and learn to discover their abilities at SOCHi, so does our curriculum! Our curriculum is adapting and growing to accommodate our diverse student body. Stay tuned to see how SOCHi is growing to assist you on your journey to success!