It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Career in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical Coding Job Summary
Medical coders work on the forefront of the billing systems for Alabama medical practices and healthcare organizations. They have the responsibility to examine the medical records of patients and convert all services provided into universal codes. These services can be for medical, diagnosis or dental procedures, or any medical supplies or equipment used. There are multiple codes that are used in the conversion, including:
- CPT codes (Current Procedural Terminology).
- ICD codes (International Classification of Diseases).
- HCPCS codes (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding).
Medical coders depend on information from sources including physician and nursing notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology reports. Coders must know not only what total services were provided for accurate reporting, but must have a working knowledge of all private payer and government regulations that impact coding as well. Incorrectly coded claims can result in services not being covered, services being paid for at a lower rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for fraudulent or improper billing. Since improper coding can actually cost Alabama hospitals and doctors many thousands of dollars in revenue annually, a proficient medical coder is a vital asset to the healthcare organization. They can work in every type of healthcare facility, including private practices, clinics, hospitals and emergency care centers. It is not unusual for experienced medical coders to working from home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.
Medical Biller Job Summary
As essential as the medical coder's function is, it would be for naught without the collaboration of the medical biller whose labors bring in revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Alabama healthcare organizations and are practically responsible for keeping their doors open. Frequently the biller and coder are the same individual within a medical facility, but they can also be two independent professionals. When the coder has performed his or her job, the biller uses the codes provided to complete and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicaid or Medicare. After they have been paid by the appropriate entity, patients can then be charged for deductibles or other out of pocket costs. On a regular basis, a medical billing clerk might also do any of the following:
- Check medical insurance benefits for patients and help them with billing questions or concerns
- Check on submitted patient claims and appeal those that have been declined
- Act as a mediator between the healthcare provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for proper claim settlement
- Produce and manage Accounts Receivables reports
- Produce and manage unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billing clerks not only are employed by family practices, but also Alabama hospitals, urgent care facilities, nursing homes or medical groups. They may work in any kind of healthcare facility that relies on the revenues generated from billing third party payers and patients.
Medical Coder and Biller Training and Certification
It's essential that you get your instruction from a reputable school, whether it's a trade school, vocational school or community college. Even though it is not a requirement in most cases to attain a professional certification, the school you enroll in should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). Most programs only require that you earn either a high school diploma or a GED to be eligible. The fastest way to becoming either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to obtain a certificate, which typically takes about one year to finish. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more expansive education, which for most programs requires two years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical coding and billing are not abundantly offered. After your education has been concluded, although not mandated in most states, you may want to acquire a professional certification. Certification is an excellent method for those new to the profession to show potential employers that they are not only qualified but committed to their occupation. Just some of the organizations that make available certifications are:
- American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
- Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC).
- The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS).
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Completing an accredited medical coding and billing program, along with attaining a professional certification, are the most effective ways to accelerate your new vocation and succeed in the rapid growing Alabama healthcare field.
Medical Billing and Coding Online Schools
If you are interested in flexibility and the convenience of attending classes from home, then selecting an medical billing and coding online college might be an excellent option. They can be especially appealing to those in Alabama who plan on going to school while still working or have additional obligations that make attending classes on campus challenging. And as an added advantage, online colleges are in many cases less expensive than the traditional classroom options. Expenses for such items as tuition, study materials and commuting may be decreased or eliminated. But be careful, as not all online schools are reputable. For that reason it's important to verify that any online school you enroll in is accredited to ensure a superior education. We will cover the benefits of accreditation in the next section. Just be sure to establish that any online training you are researching is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, for example the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to apply yourself to this mode of learning, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.