A medical coding certification is a pre-requisite to a successful medical coding career. As with most professions, getting a certification serves to validate your abilities, qualifications and competence as a medical coder. It is a well-known fact that credentialed medical coders are preferred by most employers. More importantly, they earn more than those without certifications. With these two reasons alone, you will surely agree that getting certified is indeed crucial to your success as a medical coder.
What is Medical Coding and Why is it Important?
The health care industry is currently one of the most rapidly growing sources of employment for new graduates and even for those who want to shift careers. Hospitals and other health care institutions have recognized the need to find trained professionals, whose employment will help them stay afloat and profitable amidst the avalanche of changing compliance requirements of both private and public insurance companies.
To put it simply, the job of a medical coder is to identify and assign codes to specific services and procedures done to patients, for proper billing to public and private insurance companies. In other words, medical coders are essential in ensuring that doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers are properly reimbursed, or else the whole healthcare industry will be immobilized. It is highly critical that the correct codes are used as errors could lead to delays in payment.
Therefore, the job of a medical coder should be placed in the hands of someone who is properly trained and who has a medical coding certificate under his/her belt.
How to Train for a Medical Coding Career
In a 2010 study by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care support occupations are included in the list of the highest paying careers in America.
However, your salary and job options are directly influenced by the type of education you had en route to your career as a medical coder.
You can choose from the following options:
– Associate Degree or Certificate. Most community colleges and trade or vocational schools offer medical coding associate degrees or medical coding certificate courses. Programs may run from a year to two years. This is a more affordable option than enrolling in a university.
– Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree. Obtaining either of the two will surely lead to a higher salary and better job opportunities.
– Online Program. For those whose schedules do not allow them to attend formal schooling, there are various online classes to choose from.
Benefits of a Medical Coding Certification
In all the above cases, you can secure a medical coding job but your stakes are definitely higher if you get the proper certification after graduation. Most employers prefer experienced medical coders. However, securing a certification to either the American Health Information Management Association or the American Academy of Professional Coders will greatly improve your credentials and your chances of landing a job even if you are a fresh graduate.
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