The healthcare industry has been growing at an incredible rate, driven by the aging population of the U.S., the global pandemic, and the Affordable Care Act, which allows 30 million Americans the ability to get insurance through this policy. Currently, senior citizens make up only 12% of the population, but this figure will rise to 21% by 2050.
With statistics like these driving the healthcare industry, it’s no wonder that it’s currently the fastest growing industry in the United States. Alongside the job stability that this industry offers, it also boasts salaries that are higher than the national average, ensuring that the staff in this field are well-paid.
One of the career paths that’s become incredibly popular over recent years within healthcare is becoming a medical biller and coder. This job is essentially all about reviewing medical records, creating a bill from the findings, and then recording payments when they are collected.
Typically, a medical biller evaluates the necessary codes that are required when sending bills, before then crafting extensively detailed billing lists for patients that have spent time within the medical care system.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down exactly how you can become a medical biller and coder. We’ve split this into four steps, making the process as easy to follow as possible. Let’s jump right into it!
Get the Basics Down
The first step that allows you to move on to the rest of the process of becoming a medical biller and coder is to get your high school diploma. If you left high school without this, you’d also be able to get your GED later in life.
Once you’ve obtained this qualification, you can then be able to apply to degree programs, which is the next step of this process.
Fast Track Your Progress with a Degree
While not everyone that becomes a medical biller and coder needs a degree, as they can simply jump to the next step, the flexibility and accessibility of these courses make them an easy option to subscribe to. Additionally, with a degree, workers in this field can expect higher salaries, as well as ensure that they’re the most competitive candidate possible for the process.
If you choose to go down this pathway, you may want to study a medical billing program. This could be a degree in a related area or an associate’s degree that directly specializes in this field. Alongside the helping hand that these programs can offer, the advanced knowledge that you can gain during the course also sets you up perfectly for this role.
Going forward, you’ll have a more intricate understanding of the role, allowing you to more easily access the information that comes in the next stages.
Complete the Additional Training
After you’ve graduated from your degree program, you’ll now need to get some more specific medical coding training. The key thing to remember for this segment is that you should look for programs that are certified by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education. The ABHES is the gold standard for these courses, having been the leader of this industry for over 40 years.
Within this stage of becoming a medical biller and coder, training can last for several months. The specific course that you take should relate to where you want to work as a biller. For example, you could look at health care communication, diagnostic coding, procedural coding, healthcare settings, or any other specialized course.
These courses can give you a solid foundation of knowledge upon which to build your career.
Get Certified with the AAPC
Once you’ve completed your additional training, you can apply for certification in this industry. Typically, the majority of healthcare positions require these certifications, so it’s a good idea to do them. Additionally, they can give you an advantage when it comes to hiring and negotiating a higher salary.
Through the Academy of Professional Coders, known by the acronym AAPC, you may be able to take the following certification exams:
- Certified Professional Coder (CPC) – Needed if you want to work as a coder in a physician’s office
- Certified Outpatient Coding (COC) – Best for working in outpatient facilities
- Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) – Best for inpatient care facilities
- Certified Risk Adjustment Coders (CRC) – For those that help healthcare professionals by denoting disease progression
On top of these common four, there are an additional eighteen different possible specializations. These specializations focus on a certain area of medicine, allowing the coder to make more money after taking on more education.
After getting certified, you’ll have absolutely everything you need to then apply for jobs in your desired role. With a strong background, you’ll have a great opportunity to secure a position in the area of medical billing and coding that you desire.
Typically, you can expect to make around $21.75 an hour based on your experiences. This figure can shift depending on any additional education and specialization that you take on.
Becoming a medical biller and coder is an exciting opportunity, with strong career paths and potential for specialization. This latter fact makes the job one that has great potential, with the option to return to education and further specialize, making this job have a scalable pay range.
Additionally, being within the medical field offers medical billers and coders a level of support, as they’re in an industry that is currently growing at impressive rates.
If you’re looking to become a medical biller, then follow the steps outlined in the article, and you’ll be well on your way.