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Medical Billing and Coding

Education and Training Associate’s Degree
Average Salary $32,000
Job Outlook Very Good

Medical coding is part of the administration and office side of the healthcare industry. It is an excellent choice for people who want to have a career in healthcare but are more suited to a back of house role which does not involve dealing with patients directly. Medical coding refers to the practice by which medical procedures are coded for the purpose of seeking financial reimbursement from the health insurance companies or from the patients directly.

Working in medical coding involves using specialist coding software to correctly categorize the procedures or treatments a patient has had carried out on them. This is then checked against a patient’s healthcare coverage in order to determine what level of payment the patient is liable for and what part of it will be picked up by the insurance.

Education and Training Requirements

The most common qualification for someone working in medical coding is an Associate’s Degree. The most relevant subject to study is health information technology. Courses relating to IT and administration are useful for anyone who is looking to get into this aspect of healthcare. Courses at the high school level which prove advantageous include courses in information technology and health courses.

Getting the Job

Candidates seeking a job in medical coding will need to show they are methodical, organized, logical, and capable of dealing with large amounts of records. Due to the busy nature of a medical coding job it is essential that an individual applying for it is able to work with large volumes of information and correctly prioritize a busy work load. Having a relevant associate’s degree is also very advantageous but not an absolute prerequisite. Work experience within a healthcare office environment is a definite advantage.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The employment outlook for staff working in medical coding is very good. The healthcare industry is one which is expanding and patient numbers are on the rise. This results in a need for a large number of new healthcare staff in many different aspects of the industry, including medical coding. New openings in medical coding and other healthcare positions are likely to grow faster than most other industries.

The typical path of advancement for someone working in medical coding is to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree and get promoted to a healthcare manager. This is a more senior role within the administrative side of the healthcare industry. The work experience gained while working in medical coding is a definite advantage for anyone attempting to reach a position of seniority within the healthcare office environment.

Working Conditions and Environment

Working in medical coding is one of the few positions within healthcare which does not involve any direct patient contact whatsoever. It is therefore suitable for people who do not enjoy working directly with members of the public and instead prefer to work in a team within the context of an office. Depending on the facility or company worked for, medical coders will typically work in a team, either large or small. The office is the place where a medical coder will spend their working day.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a medical coder is $32,000 a year. This is closer to the $20,000 mark for people who are just starting out in the industry and can rise to as much as $50,000 a year. The exact salary is likely to depend on the size and nature of the facility which the medical coder works at and the level of on the job experience they have.

Where to Go for More Information

American Health Information Management Association
233 N Michigan Ave., 21st Fl.
Chicago, IL 60601-5809

The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education
233 N Michigan Ave., 21st Fl.
Chicago, IL 60601-5800

Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists
218 E Bearss Ave., Ste. 354
Tampa, FL 33613

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine