It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Career in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical Coder Job Duties
Medical coders are on the forefront of the billing systems for Arizona medical practices and hospitals. They have the responsibility to examine the medical records of patients and convert all services provided into universal codes. These services may be for diagnosis, medical or dental procedures, or any medical supplies or equipment used. There are several 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 including physician and nursing notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology reports. Medical Coders must not only know what services were provided in total for accuracy, but must have a functioning knowledge of all private payer and government regulations that affect coding as well. Incorrectly coded claims can result in services not being covered, services being paid for at a decreased rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for fraudulent or improper billing. Since improper coding can actually cost Arizona physicians and medical facilities multiple thousands of dollars in earnings annually, a good medical coder is a vital asset for any healthcare organization. They can work in any kind of healthcare facility, including family practices, hospitals, clinics and critical care centers. It is not uncommon for seasoned medical coders to working from home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.
Medical Biller Job Description
As vital as the medical coder's function is, it would be for naught without the collaboration of the medical biller whose efforts generate revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Arizona medical facilities and are essentially responsible for keeping their doors open. In many cases the coder and biller can be the same individual within a medical facility, but they can also be two independent specialists. When the coder has performed her or his duty, the biller utilizes the codes supplied to complete and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid. After they have been paid by the applicable entity, patients can then be charged for deductibles and additional out of pocket expenses. On a regular basis, a medical billing clerk can also do any of the following:
- Verify health insurance benefits for patients and assist them with billing questions or concerns
- Follow up on submitted patient claims and appeal those that have been denied
- Work as an intermediary between the healthcare provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for proper claim settlement
- Generate and control Accounts Receivables reports
- Generate and deal with unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billers not only are employed by family practices, but also Arizona emergency care facilities, hospitals, medical groups or nursing homes. They may practice in every type of healthcare facility that relies on the incomes generated from billing patients and third party payers.
Medical Coder and Biller Programs and Certification
It's imperative that you get your instruction from a reputable school, whether it's a trade school, vocational school or community college. Although it is not required in most cases to obtain a professional certification, the school you choose should be accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). The majority of schools only require that you have either a high school diploma or a GED to apply. The most expedient way to become either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to attain a certificate, which normally takes about a year to complete. An Associate Degree is also an option for a more expansive education, which for most colleges calls for two years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical coding and billing are not widely available. When your training has been concluded, although not mandated in the majority of states, you may wish to earn a professional certification. Certification is an effective way for those new to the field to show prospective employers that they are not only qualified but committed to their occupation. Just 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).
Completing an accredited medical billing and coding course, combined with earning a professional certification, are the most effective ways to advance your new vocation and succeed in the fast growing Arizona healthcare field.
Medical Biller and Coder Online Training
If you are interested in flexibility and the convenience of attending classes at home, then choosing an medical billing and coding online course might be a good alternative. They can be particularly appealing to those in Arizona who plan on going to school while still working or have additional commitments that make attending classes on campus challenging. And as an added benefit, online schools are frequently cheaper than the conventional classroom alternatives. Expenses for such things as tuition, commuting and study materials may be minimized or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online programs are reputable. That's why it's essential to establish that the online course you enroll in is accredited to guarantee a quality education. We will address the advantages of accreditation in the next segment. Just make sure to establish that any online school you are researching is accredited by one of the national accrediting organizations, for example the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to commit yourself to this type of learning, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.