Medical coders and billers have the important job of keeping the business of healthcare running. These professionals form part of the team in a healthcare facility that is responsible for making sure that doctors are paid for the services they provide.
Although often referred to as one profession, medical coding and billing are actually two different functions. However, it’s not entirely necessary that the same person cannot perform both the functions.
Depending on the facility, medical coding and billing specialists may belong to two altogether separate departments or form part of the same team with intersecting roles.
Difference between a Medical Coder & Biller
Before we go any further on how to become a medical biller and coder, it is important to understand what each job entails.
Each day, thousands of patients visit doctors and other healthcare professionals for medical consultation, diagnoses and treatment. Medical coders assign standardized codes to the various procedures performed on patients at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities.
These codified documents form the basis on which insurance companies like Medicaid are billed. So, the essence of a medical coder’s role is to establish a line of communication between doctors and health insurance carriers.
A medical biller’s job, on the other hand, includes submitting insurance claims to providers, following-up with them, providing necessary billing documentation, collecting payments, and maintaining patient accounts among other things.
How to become a Medical Coder & Biller
Preparation: It’s good to start preparing for the job as early as high school. Taking courses in math (since you will be dealing with numbers on a daily basis) and science (to get familiarized with medical terminology) will help you make a smooth transition into a post-secondary medical billing and coding training program. You should also look to build your computer and communication skills while in high school.
Training: Associate programs in Allied Health or Medical Specialties or a Bachelor’s degree in Health Information Systems are options you can consider if you have the time and budget for a college education.
Alternatively, vocational training courses in the field offered by career schools are a viable option for those looking for a quick transition into the workforce. These courses are a lot more affordable and much shorter in duration as compared to college degree programs. Self-paced online medical billing and coding training programs are also available.
Certification: Although certification is not a prerequisite for employment, it helps add weight to a medical coding and billing specialists’ CV.A resume adorned with certification from organizations like the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) or American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) will have a much higher potential to secure a job.
Real World Experience: Apply for internship at a local healthcare facility, even if it’s unpaid, to get some hands-on training.You can also find part time or voluntary work and see if you can get some time to shadow medical billers and coders on the job. In fact, any experience in the medical field will help your cause of finding a placement once you’re through with your education.
Nancy is a 35-year old stay at home mom of two. She worked as a medical assistant for five years before taking a break to be with her children. Her experience as a medical assistant gave her valuable insights in to the medical billing and coding industry, which she likes to share with others through her writing. Medical billing and coding programs often find mention in her writings. Her expertise in Medical billing and coding training stems from her extensive research on the subject.indeed