As a medical billing and coding instructor, I am frequently asked about the career outlook for medical coding and billing jobs. This is actually a great question for any prospective student to ask. Wasting time and money to train into a dying career is not a smart idea. When choosing a new career, it is important to know if the field is stable, growing, or in fact, dying. Right now due to the Affordable Care Act and aging of today’s baby boomer population the healthcare field is growing at a huge pace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 22% increase in the growth of jobs for medical coders. This is due to the aging of the baby boomer population, and more people accessing the healthcare system. Entry level medical coding salary ranges from $16 to $18 an hour. Experienced medical coders and billers can make substantially more money. With experience and national certification, the amount one can earn can go up to $25 to $30 an hour. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, Health Record Technicians (which includes medical coders, health insurance specialists, and medical billers) do the following duties:
- Review patient records for timeliness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness of data
- Organize and maintain data for clinical databases and registries
- Track patient outcomes for quality assessment
- Use classification software to assign clinical codes for reimbursement and data analysis
- Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
- Protect patients’ health information for confidentiality, authorized access for treatment, and data security
This career is well suited to a person who enjoys paying close attention to detail, likes learning new things, comfortable with working on a computer and enjoys working with other people. Ongoing continuing education is needed to keep up with the changing laws, regulations, and compliance issues. Certification is another factor in career success within this field. National organizations such as American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offer certification to medical coders and billers to document their skill set and professionalism. Many facilities want to hire professionally certified medical coders. Other career opportunities exist for medical coders aside from just working in a doctor’s office. Medical coders may be hired as auditors for private companies that help other facilities maintain compliance by reviewing their medical documents. Also, jobs exist as claims adjudicators on the payer side – meaning you’d work for a payer like BlueCross BlueShield and review claims for payment. Many medical coders are cross-trained as medical billers, and they can also move up into medical office management positions. Other jobs exist as medical billing advocates. Medical billing advocates work for private entities that offer services to inpatient hospital clients to review their bills for errors and get the biller lowered. They look for duplicate charges, lab tests that may have been ordered but not done and other errors that inflate a patient’s bill. The career outlook is quite bright for a person aspiring for a job as a medical coding professional. Because of the competitive nature of the job market, quality medical coding training is necessary to land a good job. Training for medical coding can take as little as 12-16 weeks and can be done traditionally or online. Right now, there is a huge boom in adults wanting to take advantage of online training programs because of the self-paced nature and flexibility of schedule. One of the great things about this career is that medical coding training time is relatively short compared to the amount of money one can make starting out in the field. If you are interested in training into a new career, medical coding may be one to seriously consider as the career outlook is very bright.