Medical billing and coding are growing fields, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy jobs. People often make the mistake that these positions are administrative, but they are much more complicated.
For starters, though people often use billing and coding interchangeably, they’re actually two separate jobs. In a small physician’s office, you might do both, but in most places you will do one or the other.
Medical billing has to do with filing insurance claims and posting payments to accounts. Medical information must be accurate for claims to be paid. For this reason, billers have huge responsibility. Medical billers receive denials and rejections and must figure out what needs to be done for these claims to be corrected and/or appealed and paid.
Medical billers must be confident on the phone, because they spend much time talking with insurance companies to sort out detail and also send out statements. This is why it’s imperative to be up-front with patients about what they owe at the time of service.
When patients receive bills they did not expect, especially if they have insurance coverage, medical billers must be prepared to work with them in a professional manner, because they will be calling with questions and they might not be in the best mood.
Coders, by contrast, are responsible for entering codes that go with the procedures performed on the patient and the physician’s diagnosis. They have to be aware of any coding changes that take place and make sure that the codes are up-to-date in their computer system. Don’t mistake this job for simple data entry -- it takes sound knowledge of medical terminology in order to code properly and accurately. Most coders do need to be certified either through the American Academy of Professional Coders or American Health Information Management Association by taking a certification test.
The implementation of electronic health records has opened up many new positions in billing and coding. One potential perk: As you gain experience in these fields, there’s also the possibility to work from home.
Kara Silvers has been with Herzing University for over five years. She came on with over 12 years of experience in the field of billing and coding. She teaches medical billing and coding courses for the University.