Although there are no education requirements to become a medical billing and coding specialist, most facilities or doctors will want you to have completed formal education to improve your ability to do the job successfully. This ensures that you are capable to taking over the invoicing and coding responsible that are the basis of their income. Medical billing education requirements can range from a simple home study program to a two or four year degree at college. There is great variability in cost and time commitment.
The best program to learn medical billing and coding will help to prepare you for industry recognized certifications. The best programs also allow you to transfer credit hours to other major institutions. If you are currently working in a medical office you may have the option of on the job training. However, while the cost is significantly less, on-the-job training is not as comprehensive, nor does it give you the flexibility of moving to another office or hospital setting without first receiving more education and undergoing certification examination.
Medical coders are responsible for updating patient files, using a universally recognized coding system which should be in compliance with federal regulations and meet insurance company requirements. By contrast, a medical billing specialist is a subspecialty that deals only with the billing aspects of the job and not the coding. However, in most programs you will learn both areas because medical coding is the first step in the billing process and because you then become more marketable when you have knowledge of both.
A good medical billing a coding program will help you learn the fundamentals of the job and prepare you for certification. The program will also help you to establish a career in the medical coding industry. This is a stable work situation since digital invoicing to insurance companies and federal programs only continue to get more complex. The responsibilities of a coding specialist include learning how to prevent and spot medical fraud, both of which increase the overall cost of medical care to patients and overhead for physicians and hospitals.
Many programs begin with preparing the student, teaching them the fundamental coding skills for an outpatient setting. If you choose to enter as a billing specialist only courses will be aimed at providing you with the most up to date information about 3rd party billing processes. Although including both areas of the job in your education may increase the length and cost of your schooling, when you learn both areas it increases the potential that you will find a job that satisfies you financially and in your work environment.
In both cases you will learn about the health care industry and the different methods your practice can be reimbursed for services rendered. When you successfully complete your medical billing and coding educational requirements you’ll be able to sit for a certification examination that will demonstrate your capabilities to physician offices and facilities that you can complete your tasks successfully.
Medical billing and coding education costs between $2,500 and $6,000 depending upon the school you choose and the area of the country in which you attend. Most programs are 3 semesters and will last approximately 1 year. In comparison to the education cost is the average salary of $32,000 to $45,000 – again depending upon the area of the country and the environment in which you work.
In just one year many certificate programs can prepare you for a career. When you have completed the education requirements, you will be ready to join a team at any facilities. In some instances you may decide to pursue a career at home. Before choosing the program you attend look for their placement statistics and any help they may give you to work from home.
By evaluating several programs you will learn that the educational requirements to learn medical billing and coding are straight forward. However, the program you choose should also offer placement assistance after graduation, tuition assistance if needed and tutoring help. By looking at all of the different aspects of the program you will be able to make the best decision for your particular situation.