4 Reasons Why Medical Billing and Coding Jobs Are Hot Right Now
Medical billing and coding is an essential back office function for medical facilities like physician practices, clinics, and hospitals. The people who have medical billing and coding jobs are responsible for translating details of each patient’s record into codes used by insurance companies when determining reimbursement for medical services.
Healthcare is expected to be a growth industry for many years to come.
Medical billing and coding must adhere to international standards, and in addition to being critical for insurance reimbursement, the codes can be analyzed by healthcare providers to determine the effectiveness of medical treatments. Because the information medical billing and coding specialists use is so critical to developing and evaluating treatment protocols, specialists who do this work must be carefully trained. They are in high demand in the US, and that trend is expected to continue. Here are 4 reasons why medical billing and coding jobs are hot right now.
1. There’s Already a Shortage of Medical Coders
In the medical billing and coding industry, there is a constant 20% to 30% shortage of medical coders. That means medical facilities are constantly on the lookout for these professionals, and they work hard to retain the ones they already employ. In some parts of the country, bidding wars for coders are not uncommon, and retention bonuses are increasingly used in areas where shortages of medical coding and billing specialists exist. These bonuses are typically paid quarterly and average 10% to 25% of the coder’s annual salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for medical coding and billing jobs in 2012 was $34,160. Bonuses could make that figure significantly higher however. The shortage of these specialists is expected to reach 50% in the coming year.
2. The Switch to the ICD-10 Coding Standard Will Make The Shortage More Acute
Starting in October 2015, a new medical coding standard will become mandatory. This new coding standard, ICD-10, is designed to provide more detail about diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes from doctors’ notes, recommendations, and lab results. The current coding system, ICD-9, has only 14,000 codes, but ICD-10 has more than 87,000 codes. Because ICD-10 is much more detailed, the transition to ICD-10 is expected to significantly reduce coding specialists’ productivity, necessitating the hiring of more. Healthcare facilities are expected to increase hiring of medical billing and coding specialists significantly in 2015 to help ensure that medical billing does not fall behind.
3. An Aging Population Will Increase Demand for Healthcare Services
As the population ages, demand for healthcare services will increase.
Even after the transition to ICD-10 is complete, increased demand for medical billing and coding specialists will not go away. That’s because the average age of the population is increasing, and an older population means more demand for medical testing, treatments, and procedures and more reimbursement claims to insurance companies. Specialists with experience in certain medical fields, such as cancer, are expected to be in particularly high demand, because of the expected increase in cancer diagnoses as the population ages. Medical coding and billing professionals who are able to gain experience in hospital-based specialties like oncology and orthopaedics will experience high demand for their services as well as increased earning potential.
4. The ACA Will Increase Demand for Billing and Coding Specialists
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been in effect for a few years now, and this law is expected to increase the number of medical billing and coding jobs for two reasons. First, accurate billing and coding is ultimately necessary to reduce administrative issues and increase efficiency of medical care delivery, which are major goals of the ACA. Additionally, under the ACA, more Americans will have health insurance, so there will be more insurance claims submitted, requiring more billing and coding work. While the rate of growth of newly insured Americans is expected to slow, the numbers of insured Americans are expected to continue to increase over the next decade, ensuring continued demand for medical billing and coding professionals.
For the person who is interested in enhanced job opportunities and job security in coming years, medical billing and coding is a terrific choice. Demand for these professionals is expected to be high in all regions, but particularly in locations where there are major medical facilities. The Medical Billing and Coding Specialists program at SOCHi trains students in all areas of medical billing and coding for inpatient and outpatient healthcare settings. If you would like to learn more about the medical billing and coding programs at SOCHi, we invite you to contact us at any time or complete our information request form.