For some, working from home is a dream come true – you can save time and money on commuting and be more available to your family while in your home office.
Medical billing is one of the most ideal work-from-home jobs because so much of it can be done on a computer and by phone. If you look on a job search website, chances are you’ll find an opening for medical billers that will allow you to work remotely. Some of these remote positions might require on-site work once the coronavirus pandemic subsides, but there’s no doubt many medical billing professionals have flexibility with where – and sometimes when – they work.
Here’s a look at what it takes to start in the medical billing field, career outlook, possible work locations and best practices for working from home.
What is medical billing?
Medical billing is a growing career and job titles are likely to be medical billers or something similar, such as medical insurance representatives or medical billing and insurance associates.
Medical billing is similar to medical coding – and some people might do both jobs, especially in small medical offices. Medical billing, however, is focused on making sure medical information is accurate so the office or healthcare facility can file a successful insurance claim. Medical billers will post payments to patient accounts and deal with denials and rejections from insurance companies.
Medical billing professionals can start in several healthcare settings according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), such as:
- Physician’s offices
- Long-term care facilities
What skills do you need?
Just with any career, there are some skills that can help you excel in your career. The ability to communicate clearly and confidently is important for this position, as medical billers will work with insurance companies and patients. Sometimes the conversations can become difficult, which is why medical billers need to be calm and organized.
Medical billers should also be proficient in software that helps medical offices/systems manage the billing process.
Specific tasks for medical billers include:
- Gathering and reviewing patient information
- Ensuring accuracy in billing
- Submitting claims to insurance companies and appealing rejected reimbursements if necessary
- Advising healthcare officials on how to get the most reimbursement possible
- Handling insurance pre-approval situations
- Answering patients’ billing-related questions and following up with them for payments
How can you get started in medical billing?
The requirements for medical billing positions will vary based on the healthcare provider, but it can certainly help a job applicant to have a diploma or associate degree in the field, as well as recognition as a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS).
Herzing University offers both diploma and associate online programs in Medical Billing and Insurance:
- Diploma: This eight-month online diploma program will cover the basics of insurance and billing processes, key medical terms and patient privacy regulations. Students also will prepare to take the CBCS exam after graduation.
- Associate: Students in this 20-month associate degree program will take general education classes along with courses focused on medical billing/insurance, which can position you for better career opportunities. It can also put you on a pathway toward a bachelor’s degree program, such as in healthcare administration. Students also will prepare to sit for the CBCS exam after graduation.
Will you work at home or in the office?
While your goal might be to work from home, it is up to your work to determine whether that arrangement works best for them.
There are a variety of workplace locations for a medical biller – from a large hospital system to a doctor's practice. Sometimes the decision on whether to allow a work-from-home arrangement comes down to costs and preference of the supervisor or owner.
For example, a large hospital might make a business decision to allow all of its medical billers to work remotely, while a physician’s office might prefer to keep its billers in the office to work directly with staff and patients while also communicating with insurance companies by phone.
Also, it’s important to be patient – some employers might want to wait until they know you and your work style before they allow a remote working arrangement. The option to work from home is generally for professionals who have been in the field for a little while- so don't be discouraged if you can't find an entry-level remote position right after graduation!
How to set up a home office
If you work from home, you will need to concentrate on the tasks at hand. This is why some employers want you to have a home office so you can work from home with limited distractions.
Here are some considerations as you set up a home workspace:
- Find a quiet spot: It can be tough to find a calm, area to when multiple people or kids are in the house all day, but you need to be able to give your full attention to the work. If you can’t find a room with a door to close while you work, you could look for a spot in the basement, a nook in the living room, or even a space in the kitchen. You will need to have privacy when you’re making calls to insurance companies, patients and colleagues.
- Make sure you have internet access: Consistent access to high-speed internet, along with Wi-Fi, is expected. Your connection should be secure since you will be working with private information.
- Gather the right equipment: It’s important to have an up-to-date computer, as you’ll want to make sure it can handle the latest version of billing software used by your company or client. Full-time workers might get to use a work computer but independent contractors might be on their own. It’s always good to have a backup computer just in case. A file cabinet with folders would be helpful as well, in case you need to store information and have it ready at a moment’s notice.
- Set a schedule: Flexibility can be a good thing, as long as you get your work done when you’re at your best. For example, if you’re an early riser and can get a lot accomplished before others in the home wake up, that might be an ideal way to start your day. Others would prefer to – or will be required to – work 9-to-5. Your preference might be to finish work when everyone is asleep at night. Whatever way you choose, be sure to fit meals, healthy snacks, family time and exercise into your day.
Interested in starting an online program? Check out Herzing University to learn more about medical billing!