It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Career in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical Coder Job Summary
Medical coders work on the forefront of the billing systems for Alaska private practices and healthcare organizations. Coders have the responsibility to review the treatment records of patients and convert all services provided into universal codes. These services can be for medical, diagnosis or dental procedures, or any equipment or medical supplies 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 rely on information from sources such as nursing and physician notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology reports. Medical Coders must know not only what total services were provided for accurate reporting, but must have a functioning knowledge of all private payer and government regulations that affect coding also. Improperly coded claims can lead to services not being paid for, services being paid for at a reduced rate, or the provider being penalized for improper or fraudulent billing. Since improper coding can in fact cost Alaska hospitals and doctors many thousands of dollars in income every year, a good medical coder is an important asset to the healthcare team. They can work in any type of healthcare facility, including private practices, hospitals, clinics and emergency care centers. It is not uncommon for professional medical coders to operate at home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.
Medical Billing Job Summary
As crucial as the medical coder's job is, it would be for naught without the collaboration of the medical biller whose efforts generate revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Alaska medical organizations and are literally responsible for keeping their doors open. Often the coder and biller may be the same man or woman within a medical facility, but they can also be two separate specialists. After the coder has completed his or her job, the biller utilizes the codes provided to complete and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid. After they have been paid by the applicable organization, patients can then be billed for deductibles and other out of pocket costs. On a routine basis, a medical billing professional may also do any of the following:
- Verify health insurance coverages for patients and assist them with billing concerns or questions
- Check on patient claims submitted and appeal any that have been denied
- Function as an intermediary between the medical provider, the insurance companies and the patients for accurate claim resolution
- Generate and oversee Accounts Receivables reports
- Produce and manage unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billers not only work for private practices, but also Alaska emergency care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes or medical groups. They can practice in every kind of healthcare facility that depends on the revenues generated from billing third party payers and patients.
Medical Coding and Billing Training and Certification
It's imperative that you get your education from a reputable school, whether it's a trade school, vocational school or community college. Although it is not required in many cases to earn a professional certification, the school you choose should be accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). The majority of schools simply require that you have either a high school diploma or a GED to be eligible. The most expedient way to becoming either a medical biller or coder (or both) is to attain a certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. An Associate Degree is also an option for a more comprehensive education, which for almost all programs calls for 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical coding and billing are not widely offered. Once your training has been concluded, although not mandated in most states, you might desire to attain a professional certification. Certification is a great way for those new to the field to show potential employers that they are not only qualified but dedicated to their career. Some of the organizations that provide 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).
Graduating from an accredited medical billing and coding course, in conjunction with attaining a professional certification, are the best ways to advance your new career and succeed in the rapid growing Alaska healthcare industry.
Medical Biller and Coder Online Training
If you are interested in convenience and the flexibility of attending classes in your home, then choosing an medical billing and coding online school might be an excellent alternative. They can be especially attractive to students in Alaska who anticipate attending school while continuing to work or have additional responsibilities that make attending classes on campus difficult. And as an added advantage, online programs are frequently cheaper than the traditional classroom alternatives. Costs for such items as tuition, study materials and commuting may be decreased or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online courses are reputable. For that reason it's imperative to establish that the online program you select is accredited to guarantee a premium education. We will address the benefits of accreditation in the next segment. Just make sure to check that any online classes you are considering is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, such as the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to commit yourself to this mode of learning, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.