Ideally, the medical field would be all about the patients and the doctors who serve them. But then again, even after our most dire medical emergencies we receive a surprisingly high bill for the healthcare services we received. The medical field, just like everything else in our world, is dependent on money to help it run. And this means that it is dependent on professionals who understand the business side of the industry just as well as the doctors understand their specialized fields of medicine
When it comes to healthcare services, medical insurance, laws and regulations, physician compensation, budgets, and an innumerable host of other finance-related areas in the medical field, talented individuals who are specially educated with these matters are required to help make sure everyone has everything they need. If you earn your Associate's Degree in medical billing and coding then you will obtain the expertise to help in several particular areas that many others are just incapable of doing. Soon, not only will patients rely on doctors, but both patients and doctors will rely on you to help navigate everyone through these complex waters.
When it comes to medical care, often dealing with payments and insurance can be just as painful as the malady that doctors treat. Healthcare is expensive, and even if we have insurance, there is a great deal of jargon and legalese that is difficult for the average person to completely understand. These components are often confusing and intimidating, even for the doctors. That's why it's essential that there are individuals who specialize in understanding medical insurance billing and coding practices. An individual earning an Associate's Degree in medical billing and coding will go through courses that feature the latest information regarding medical insurance, medical terminology, administration, ethics, and laws related to this area of healthcare. This program is designed to make students experts in an area that many other people are not.
At work, medical coders will utilize custom classification methods to code and categorize the information of patients. The information that these coders will maintain includes their medical history and their history of treatment. The goal in doing so is in maintaining records for insurance reimbursement purposes, so that the doctors receive the wages they deserve and the patients pay at prices they can afford. This involves creating and managing databases and registries, and serving as a liaison between medical offices, patients, and insurance carriers. Using this database information, medical coders can review patient records for preexisting conditions, supply physicians with patients' records, and facilitate communication between billing offices, and health clinicians.
The need for medical insurance billing and coding professionals is on the rise. As our country's population ages, the number of medical insurance claims and reimbursements increases as these aging individuals require draws from public and private funds for their increased medical needs. Additionally, improved technology and interoffice communications means that more individuals are needed to code the plethora of information and ensure its appropriate uploading to electronic databases. Individuals with a degree come as highly qualified and needed personnel who can supply patients, doctors, and insurance companies with the clarity that each of these parties requires in these complex transactions.
With your Associate's Degree in medical billing and coding, you will possess that unique skillset, an intersection between medical knowledge, law, and insurance that sets you up as the go-to person for answers to complex medical insurance questions. Not only will you be assisting doctors by completing databases with patient history and information, but you'll help supply doctors with the payments they need to earn a living and patients with the communications with medical insurance companies they need to get affordable healthcare. Even though the medical field like everything else relies on money to keep it moving, it doesn't mean that confusion about money ever needs to get in the way of quality healthcare services.
During your training program you’ll cover different topics related to medical billing. Because this is an Associate’s degree program and not just a certificate based course you’ll take a broader range of medical related courses.
Medical Legal Issues – Over the years the legal issues that have plagued the industry have forced new changes in the way data is handled. New HIPPA laws are always updated to protect the users information yet make it available to those who need it.
Medial Office – It is often that your first career will be medical billing with some front office duties. During your training this is why most schools focus on front office tasks such as appointment setting, greeting, medical filing and billing software. Smaller doctors’ offices don’t have the luxury in hiring separate people to handle billing, coding and front office administration so you’ll need to be trained in everything to make you more employable.
Medical Billing – The core courses you’ll take involved medical insurance billing. You’ll learn how to properly bill for procedures done on clients as well as how to follow up on any disputes or billing errors.
Anatomy – In order to become a good medical insurance biller you’ll need to understand the human body.
As a medical insurance biller the median salary range is $34,000 to $36,000 per year. The industry currently employs approx. 188,000 medical billers and it is expected to increase by 15% over the next several years.
We interviewed Heather Reynolds who works at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center regarding her role in the hospital as a medical biller.
Ron: Hi Heather thanks so much for letting us interview you today. As an editor for College-Universities.com we often get request from prospects looking into going to school to become a medical biller and they always like to hear from someone who is an actual biller. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into medical billing?
Heather: My career path probably isn’t very standard as I owned by own business for 20 years and my girlfriend talked me into looking into the medical industry when my business failed. She attended an online college in California which is where I received my medical billing training and the rest was history.
Ron: What is your typical day like?
Heather: I start my morning around 7am at the hospital as I like to get the day started before too many people some in. The first few hours are spent looking at all of the statements I generated from the previous day. I look for which ones were submitted and which ones were sent back to me. I then spend time looking at all of my past due accounts. These are patients that perhaps didn’t pay a co-pay, thought they paid but didn’t or have a dispute regarding their billing.
Ron: Are billing disputes common?
Heather: Yes, in fact outside of past due accounts where the patient just can’t pay for what was done I would say disputes are an issue. It isn’t the fact the billing is wrong but sometimes the client’s things they are covered for a particular procedure when in fact perhaps only part of it is covered. That and they are billed for something that they didn’t think they used. When you have to pay for everything for example on a claim you’ll be pickier than if you have full medical coverage. I then spend several hours working with insurance companies and negotiating with them on behalf of the hospital or client. If the claim has already gone to collections then I’ll work with the collections departments to see if we can arrange some sort of payment plan.
Ron: Is this an industry you would recommend to others?
Heather: Yes, I love being a medical biller. In fact it seems I look up at the clock twice a day now once and I realize it is noon and time for lunch and then at 5pm when it’s time to go home. My day goes by so fast. I would recommend this career to anyone as it is really rewarding but also a career where you can work hard during the day and then go home to your loved ones and leave your work behind.
While you are earning your Associate’s degree in medical billing you’ll be taking courses that will get you prepared to take the CPB or Certified Professional Biller exam. This exam will certify you that you understand ICD-10 and coding guidelines as well as Fair Debt Collections and the medical billing procedures. Please check with the school you wish to enroll in to see if they offer any special training or prep work to help you pass this exam upon graduation.