What You Need to Know About Becoming a Medical Coder
Requirements, Duties and Career Opportunities
The healthcare field continues to offer well-paying and stable jobs both for people entering the workforce and those making a career change. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that total healthcare jobs will grow 18% between 2018 and 2026, an increase of more than 2.4 million jobs.
While many think of doctors and nurses first, the healthcare field offers a varied range of potential careers. One job, in particular, is that of a medical coder. This job provides an important role in the healthcare ecosystem and a world of opportunities for those interested, including medical assistants.
What is a medical coder?
Medical codes aim to simplify communication between healthcare providers and insurers. There is a universal alpha-numeric code for every diagnosis, injury, and procedure. Medical coders take the information from a patient’s visit and code it appropriately following several sets of guidelines. During any given day, a medical coder will translate medical terminology into different medical codes, enter those codes into an industry-specific software program, process health claims, and review rejected claims, correcting as needed. Maintaining billing standards and submitting patients’ statements may also be part of the job description.
Medical coders provide an incredibly valuable service, converting healthcare services into codes so the medical biller can bill the insurance companies. This ensures healthcare companies receive payment, and the insurance companies know what they are being billed for after patients receive treatment.
Many people confuse the responsibilities of medical coders and medical billers. Coders have responsibility for coding the medical services. The biller uses these codes to communicate with the insurance provider. These are two separate skill sets and require different people to handle each role.
How do I become a medical coder?
Several accredited medical billing and coding programs will teach you how to do the job. You’ll want to pick an accredited school that helps prepare students for industry certification along with career services and job training. Students can receive an associate’s degree in medical billing and coding and then complete relevant certifications, such as the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
These programs are available at many community colleges and online. They can typically be done in less than a year, creating a low barrier to entry for a stable and lucrative career. Once you have your certification, you’ll be able to compete for jobs with local medical providers and hospital systems. Many certification programs have working relationships with medical offices and can help you find work in the industry when you are ready.
Benefits and opportunities
As the healthcare system continues to grow, the need for medical coders will also expand. Medical coding is seen as a stable job that can be obtained through specialized training for those interested in this career field.
While some medical coders work in a professional office, some healthcare organizations allow medical coders to work from the comfort of their own homes in full-time or part-time roles. This allows many to set their hours, avoid lengthy commutes, and be closer to family. Medical coders typically make around $39,000 per year, but there is room for growth with experience and additional certifications. This may be a role as a medical coding supervisor, or specializing in coding for a specific type of medicine. Both of these jobs can bring increased pay and responsibilities.
Is medical coding right for you?
This job is great for people who are detail-oriented and enjoy communicating with people. As a medical coder, you will work with medical professionals and patients, serving as an important bridge between insurance companies and healthcare providers.
For many, it’s a chance to work remotely in a stable industry with opportunities for advancement. Those wanting to be medical coders do not need a medical background and, in some cases, will not even need to work in a medical office. Those looking for a stable career and either full- or part-time work should look further into medical coding.
At Woodruff Medical Training and Testing, you’ll learn from experienced professionals and have access to real-world training to prepare you for your future in the field. Worried about the cost? Don’t be; we offer personalized financing plans so you can focus on earning your degree. Why wait?