How do I become a Medical Billing or Coding Specialist?

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing enterprises in the United States. As it takes all sorts of professionals to keep the healthcare companies running smoothly, the medical billing and coding specialist is a very essential part of the puzzle. Without medical billing and coding specialist, healthcare providers could not get paid for their services.

Perhaps you are considering a career in medical billing and coding and wondering what is the difference in the two positions. Although very similar, they are two separate, distinct careers. Most of us go to see a doctor and never realize the process involved between your actual visit and receiving your final bill that consists of all those codes on it that only the healthcare and insurance companies can possibly understand. A lot goes on “behind the scenes”.

To begin, as you are speaking to the nurse and then a doctor, every portion of relevant information is being recorded and then it is translated into an alphanumeric code. This is all done by a medical coding specialist. The codes correspond to the patient’s illness or injury and indicates to the insurance company what sort of symptoms, tests, diagnosis and treatment was administered.

Furthermore, a medical billing specialist takes the information provided by the medical coder and transforms it into a claim or invoice for the insurance company. After the insurance company reviews the bill, they determine how much they are liable for and then it is returned to the billing specialist with the portion that the patient owes. From here, the remainder due is passed on to the patient for payment. In the case of disputed charges, the medical billing specialist will address the issue and, in some cases, hire a collection agency.

The field of medicine and healthcare continues to grow, therefore, the need for medical billing and coding specialists is on the rise. If you are considering a career in this field, there are several paths to get there. First and foremost, you should decide what your end career goal is going to be.

If you are looking to get right into the workplace quickly, then you will want to check into obtaining your medical billing and coding certification. The program takes approximately nine months to a year to complete. You may find these certificate or diploma programs online, as well as, your local community college. Your certification will allow you an entry level job as a medical billing or coding specialist at the average rate of pay for your area.

Perhaps your desire is to obtain an associate degree. This is a two-year program and goes above and beyond what is required for medical billing and coding but also allows you to take the core courses that one typically achieves with an associate degree. And, if later, you decide to further your education, then your credits will count towards your bachelor’s degree. Your additional education and degree level should award you with above average pay for a medical billing or coding specialist. Some employers do prefer that you have the associate degree on your resume.

At the bachelor’s degree level, upon graduation from a program that offers health information management and administration, you may qualify for a management position in the medical billing and coding field. Earning this degree will afford you the most career opportunities and a higher salary.

Internships are available and sometimes required. You will also be required to pass the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam. If you are interested, please check out our Top 20 Accredited Online Schools that offer Medical Billing and Coding Programs.