In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare industry, there is a growing demand for skilled professionals who can ensure the smooth operation of medical billing and coding processes. The field of medical billing and coding plays a crucial role in organizing patient information, filing reimbursement claims, and managing healthcare data. As the healthcare sector continues to expand and adapt to new technologies, the need for qualified medical billers and coders is on the rise.
The Job Outlook for Medical Billers and Coders
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for medical billers and coders is promising. The BLS projects a 13% increase in the number of positions for medical records and health information technicians, which includes medical billers and coders, between 2016 and 2026. This growth rate is faster than the national average for all occupations, indicating a strong demand for professionals in this field.
The aging population and the increasing digitization of health records are major factors driving this demand. As the population continues to age, there is a greater need for healthcare services, resulting in an increased demand for medical billers and coders to manage patient information and file reimbursement claims. Additionally, the transition from paper-based records to electronic health records has created a need for professionals who can navigate and code these digital systems effectively.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Billing and Coding
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the healthcare industry as a whole, including medical billing and coding. The pandemic has led to an increased need for healthcare services, resulting in a surge in demand for medical billers and coders. As healthcare facilities have adapted to new safety protocols and implemented telemedicine services, the need for remote billers and coders has risen significantly.
The pandemic has also accelerated technological advancements in the healthcare sector. Virtual healthcare visits and telemedicine have become more popular, leading to a growing demand for remote billers and coders who can handle billing and coding tasks from a distance. This shift towards remote work has expanded the job market for medical billers and coders, as employers are no longer restricted to hiring locally and may seek more cost-effective options.
Despite the increased demand, competition in the job market may intensify as more facilities hire remote workers. To stand out among national and international competition, medical billers and coders should prioritize ongoing education, training, and certification. Staying up to date with the latest trends, codes, and regulations in the industry is crucial for success in this evolving field.
Working in Medical Billing and Coding
While medical billing and coding are often mentioned together due to their overlapping responsibilities, each role has distinct duties.
Medical billers are responsible for:
- Contacting insurance companies to obtain authorization for treatment and tests.
- Confirming patient eligibility for medications, treatments, procedures, and hospitalizations.
- Preparing, reviewing, and processing claims.
- Using billing software to deliver claims.
- Identifying and following up on unpaid claims.
- Reviewing insurance payments and assessing patient bills for accuracy.
- Resolving financial discrepancies and adhering to all guidelines dictated by state programs, HMO/PPO, and other organizations.
- Managing patient personal information and maintaining confidentiality.
On the other hand, medical coders focus on:
- Transforming diagnoses, procedures, medical services, and equipment into standardized medical codes.
- Translating medical documentation into codes for healthcare facilities and insurance companies.
- Extracting data from patient records to capture treatments, procedures, and diagnoses accurately.
- Documenting and sequencing the correct codes based on government and insurance regulations.
- Reviewing patient records for accuracy and identifying any discrepancies.
- Assigning codes for reimbursements.
- Developing and implementing procedures to improve documentation, evaluation, and accuracy.
Work Environment for Medical Billers and Coders
Medical billers and coders work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, physician’s offices, nursing homes/assisted living facilities, health insurance companies, law firms, and public/government agencies such as Medicare, Medicaid, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to the BLS, the majority of medical billers and coders are employed in general medical and surgical hospitals, followed by physician’s offices, nursing care facilities, and outpatient care facilities. Larger health systems and group practices often employ a significant number of professionals in this field, providing opportunities for career growth and development.
Average Salary for Medical Billers and Coders
The average salary for medical billers and coders can vary based on factors such as professional experience, education, certifications, and workplace. According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for medical records and health information technicians, which includes medical billers and coders, is $22.43, equivalent to an annual salary of $46,666 (BLS, 2021).
The demand for medical billers and coders is on the rise, driven by factors such as the aging population, technological advancements, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work options have expanded, creating new opportunities for professionals in this field. Ongoing education, training, and certification are crucial for staying competitive and advancing in the industry.
Medical billers and coders play essential roles in organizing patient information, filing reimbursement claims, and ensuring accurate coding for healthcare services. While a high school diploma may be the minimum requirement, professional certification can significantly enhance job prospects and earning potential. Various certifications are available for both medical billers and coders, allowing individuals to specialize in different areas of expertise.
Working environments for medical billers and coders include hospitals, physician’s offices, nursing homes, health insurance companies, and government agencies. The average salary for professionals in this field varies based on factors such as experience, education, certifications, and the workplace.
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, the demand for skilled medical billers and coders will remain strong. By staying current with industry trends and continuously improving their skills, professionals in this field can thrive in a rewarding and in-demand career. Click here to learn more about the Medical Billing & Coding program at Northeast Technical Institute.