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How To Become A Medical Coder: Education, Career, Salary In 2022

Medical Coder

How To Become A Medical Coder: Education, Career, Salary In 2022

Do you want to be part of the health field? Coding or medical billing is a great career option for you. It is a fast-growing career that would allow you to enter the highly respected medical field.

Medical coders play a vital role in the healthcare system. Medical coders use their knowledge of thousands of medical codes, payment policies, and government regulations to take medical records and encode them for billing and insurance purposes.

Due to the technicality and knowledge-focused nature of the job, being a medical coder does not happen by chance; there are specific steps you need to take to be a medical coder.

With these points in mind, are you looking for a great rewarding career with great job opportunities? Learn how to become a medical coder today.

Who Is A Medical Coder?

Medical coding specialists review detailed information about patient injuries, illnesses, and procedures from medical records and documents provided by physicians and other healthcare providers.

Medical coders work in the billing office or “back office” of doctor’s offices or hospitals. They then assign codes for the information based on an official and universally used coding system. These medical codes are often used to reimburse claims from hospitals and their doctors for insurance purposes.

However, medical coders perform some of the most critical work behind the scenes of medical facilities. They ensure that patient data is accurately recorded in electronic health records (EHR).

Additionally, medical coding requires a detail-oriented approach and a specialized technical skillset. It is an ideal profession for those who wish to work in non-patient-oriented positions within the healthcare industry.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a rapid increase in the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) means that medical coding is a career projected to grow faster than the average occupation.

Importantly, having at least an associate’s degree and a coding credential are preferred qualifications for this profession.

Additionally, medical coders must be fluent in coding systems such as Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), and the associated Healthcare Common Procedures Coding System (HCPCS).

Also, after completing their primary education, they are presented with credential opportunities that can distinguish a coder from the group and begin their career.

What is medical coding?

Medical coding transforms diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and healthcare equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes.

Diagnostic and procedure codes are taken from medical history documentation, such as transcription of doctor’s notes, laboratory and radiological results, etc.

Why medical coding?

To help promote a smooth coding and billing process, the coder checks the patient’s medical record (i.e., transcript of doctor’s notes, requested lab tests, asked for imaging studies, and other sources) to verify the work done.

The two work together to avoid denial of insurance payments. Medical coding can be an excellent career choice for many different reasons. Qualified healthcare providers are always in high demand.

Medical coders play a vital role. Entry-level medical coders can enhance your earning potential with skills and experience.

What does a medical coder do?

Medical coders read a patient’s medical history and analyze it, determining their diagnoses and any procedures performed.

They then classify those diagnoses and procedures according to a national classification system, assigning a specific numeric or alphanumeric code to each diagnosis or course.

What is the difference between medical billing and medical coding?

Both processes are equal in value and depend on each other to complete medical claims and billing processes.

Medical coding comes first and is assigning a set code to each service provided by the doctor and entering the codes into a digitized form or system.

Medical billing is the second part of the process, in which a medical biller uses the information from the encoder to create a claim or invoice for services rendered.

The bill is first sent to the insurance company, which will assess how much it is responsible for paying and return it to the biller, who then collects the patient’s share of the payment.

How much does it cost to study medical coding??

There is no clear answer to how much billing and medical coding training costs because tuition varies dramatically by the school. According to the College Board, the average published price at the district’s public community colleges is currently $ 3,440 annually.

Santa Barbara City College is recognized for one of the most affordable medical coding specialist certificates in the United States at just $ 46 per unit ($ 898).

However, colleges typically charge between $ 4,200 and $ 19,500 for medical coding and billing certificates. Don’t forget that sitting down for certification exams will cost you too.

The AHIMA Certified Coding Associate exam costs $ 299, and the AAPC Certified Professional Coder exam costs $ 300 with $ 125 for membership.

What is the medical coding salary?

The average medical coder in all AAPC members (certified and non-certified) earns approximately $ 51,889 per year. The average uncertified medical coder earns approximately $ 42,015 per year, while professionals with certification earn roughly $ 51,426, a difference of nearly 18 percent.

Medical coders who specialize and certify as a Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA®), Certified Medical Practice Manager (CPPM®), or Certified Documentation Expert Outpatient (CDEO®) average more than $ 69,000 annually.

Can You Get A Medical Coding Degree Online?

Online medical billing and coding degree programs are generally called health management or medical information management programs. These degrees provide a wide range of online medical billing and coding courses to prepare graduates for various roles in the field.

Types of online medical billing and coding programs.

Certificate

Online Medical Coding and Billing Certificates introduce students to fundamental topics, including electronic records management, health insurance, and medical administrative techniques.

After completing an online medical coding certification program, professionals are qualified to sit for the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist, Certified Professional Coding Specialist, and Certified Coding Associate exams before pursuing entry-level roles as coding specialists and Medical billing.

Most programs take four and 12 months to complete and include an internship at an approved center.

Associate

Most full-time students complete associate degrees in medical billing and coding online in two years.

Associate programs are broader than certificate programs and include online medical coding and billing courses in medical finance, diagnostic coding, and medical reimbursement systems and procedures. Students also take general education courses.

The American Health Information Management Association requires candidates for the Registered Health Information Technician credential to hold an associate’s degree. Hence, an online medical billing and coding associate program is ideal for students aspiring to managerial roles.

Single

Online medical billing and coding degree programs are generally called health care management or medical information management programs.

These degrees offer a wide range of online medical billing and coding courses to prepare graduates for various roles in the field. Students complete coding, health law, and health data courses and enroll in management classes to prepare for leadership positions.

Graduates are qualified to take the Registered Health Information Administrator exam and often pursue careers in health systems, clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, and public and community health agencies.

To Dominate

A master’s degree in health management incorporates more detailed studies than an online medical billing and coding certificate.

Most full-time students complete master’s programs in one year. Curricula generally cover providers and payers, health care financing, and health care evaluation and innovation.

Online learners complete extensive capstone projects during which they apply classroom knowledge.

Graduates often become healthcare executives leading teams in public health departments, clinics, hospitals, insurance firms, and doctor’s offices.

How to become a medical coder.

#1. Cover your prerequisites.

To become a medical coder, you must first gather your essential papers and documents, including your high school diploma or its equivalent.

You will most likely have to undergo a background check. However, applicants with a criminal record related to drug offenses or sex offenses will probably be rejected.

#2. Apply for and enroll in a medical coding program.

To the extent that there are no formal education requirements to become a medical coder, but concerns about precise coding are pushing employers to hire graduates of medical coding programs.

However, most of these programs can be completed in 18 months or two years, less in many cases. You will want to do your research and find one that fits your needs.

Do you need flexible scheduling? Faster time to graduation? Options for taking online courses? All of this will be worth considering in your search.

# 3 Complete the program.

Regardless of the program you enroll in, you are expected to understand the coding language and procedures and basic medical terminology, health information laws, the anatomy and physiology of the ICD-10 codes, among others—exciting areas of study.

In addition, you will be aware of health information laws and regulations and could participate in an internship or internship before graduation.

# 4 Get your medical coding certification.

For prospective coders, specialty certification is like a graduate degree – it provides you with additional experience. It demonstrates a level of competence and dedication that can make prospective employers stand out from the crowd.

But your hard work is not done yet. The next step is to get certified. Standard certifications such as the American Association for Health Information Management Certified Associate in Certification and Certified Coding Specialist designations can help you stand out from other applicants.

As you advance in your career, you may also earn a medical coding certification within a specialty field. For example, you may choose to specialize in outpatient care, family medicine, or internal medicine.

The choice to specialize is ultimately yours, and you can be sure that there will be a certification option for whatever path you decide to pursue.

#5. Find a job.

The medical coding profession is growing at a much faster rate than average, and the employment of medical coders is projected to grow 15 percent by 2024. This is excellent news for a job seeker.

First, when looking for a medical coding job, you need to decide what kind of environment you want to work in. Do you prefer the hectic pace of a hospital, the more constant flow of a doctor’s office, or even the comfort of your own home? Answer these questions before beginning your job search.

However, if it’s been a while since you’ve applied for a new job, getting back into the game can be tricky. Significantly, you should go over your resume with your newly acquired credentials and education.

Our Practice is answering interview questions and being ready to explain the skills you have that would make an excellent medical coder, including attention to detail, an analytical mindset, and a sense of integrity unmatched.

Frequently Asked Questions: How To Become A Medical Coder?

Is medical coding difficult?

Medical coding may not be simple, but it is not impossible. Earning a degree in medical coding is a valuable step in teaching you the ins and outs of medical coding and preparing for the job market. … So is medical coding difficult? Can be.

Are medical coders in high demand?

The medical billing and coding career prospect has great potential. Employment is expected to grow at a strong 13% rate through 2026, far outpacing the average for all occupations, which is just 7%. An aging population will drive demand for medical billers and coders.

Is Medical Coding Easy?

A medical coder is a medical information professional who assigns codes that represent medical diagnoses and procedures. … Manage health insurance claims and raise funds. In smaller offices, it is not uncommon for one person to handle both the coding and the billing.

Can a medical coder work from home?

If money makes the world go round, medical coders make the healthcare industry go round. … Since medical coding is primarily completed on a computer and no direct contact with patients is required, many medical coding jobs are available as remote work, also known as work from home or telecommuting.

Which coding certification is the best?

A general certification is the best place to start as a new medical coder. The AAPC Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam remains the most popular certification in the field. The American Association of Professional Coders recommends that everyone interested in the CPC exam have an associate’s degree.

Conclusion

In conclusion, medical coders read a patient’s medical history and analyze it, determining the patient’s diagnoses and procedures performed.

They then classify those diagnoses and procedures according to a national classification system, assigning a specific numeric or alphanumeric code to each diagnosis or procedure.

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