Medical Billing and Coding Degrees – The Basics

Medical billing and coding is a qualification that many people won’t have heard of or considered when thinking about their career options. However, this could be an oversight, given that medical billing is actually a lucrative, enjoyable, and relatively straight-forward role that can appeal to many candidates. Below you’ll find links to some excellent coding degrees, so check them out!

A medical coder is someone who takes a doctor’s notes and then enters them into a huge database. If you have never considered this job role before, then it may not have occurred to you that all that information needs to be logged!

In the US, categorizing and logging patient data is extremely important for insurance purposes. This way, the correct bill can be provided in order to cover the cost of treatment – this is medical billing. Coding meanwhile ensures that a patient’s personal medical history is kept accurate and up-to-date. For instance, a physician might not that a particular patient exhibited signs of an allergic reaction to penicillin. By ensuring that this information is correctly logged, future doctors treating the same patient can avoid making the same mistake. Such information can be life-saving.

At the same time, logging this data is important for statistic reasons. This allows governments to keep track of national and local statistics. That can in turn allow them to identify potential outbreaks and epidemics more quickly, as well as knowing where to invest resources in order to ensure better health outcomes.

There are specialty certifications that can help prepare coders for specific roles. These include:

  • Certified professional coder
  • Certified outpatient coder
  • Certified risk adjustment coder
  • And certified inpatient coder

Who Should Become a Coder?

Medical billing and coding is a challenging and rewarding job that requires a good understanding of human biology and medicine, as well as an organized and analytic mind. Medical coders will use International Classification of Diseases (ICD)1 codes in order to ensure that the doctors and nurses are making standardized notes on treatments and diagnoses. Candidates should be happy working independently and comfortable using large data sets.

You do not strictly require a bachelor’s degree in order to become a medical coder. It is possible to land a job with an associate degree or post-secondary certificate, though a bachelor’s qualification will help you to land supervisory roles and will set you apart from the competition.

This is a job role that is growing in demand. Due to a growing use of electronic records, as well as the aging population, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts demand will increase by 11% from 2018 to 2028, resulting in 23,100 new jobs.

The average salary for a medical coder is $40,3502.

Over half of all medical billing and coding specialists work in hospitals and physician’s offices. Other potential employers include insurance companies, nursing care facilities, government agencies, and research organizations.

What to Expect

When completing a medical billing and coding program, you will be expected to learn the fundamentals of human anatomy and physiology, as well as pathopharmacology. This will provide a basic grounding in medicine and biology, which can also be attractive to employers in a range of other industries. You could find it easier to land a job as a dental assistant for example, or to get onto another medical course.

You will also be expected to learn and recite numerous codes that are used as shorthand to refer to specific conditions. A good memory and the ability to quickly retrieve information is therefore advised.

Depending on the level of the qualification, the time taking to complete the course will vary. An associate degree program is two years, whereas a bachelor’s is four years.

Unlike a nursing degree, medical coding does not require a large amount of practical coursework or hands-on experience. This means that the course can be taught almost entirely online, potentially saving the student a lot of time and money, while giving them the flexibility to choose the working style that suits them best.

Becoming a medical billing and coding expert is a great option for anyone interested in human biology, and anyone who wants to help others. If you are systematically minded, if you are happy working on your own, and if you are willing to pursue a degree, then this might be a great choice.

The biggest challenge? Learning to read the infamously bad handwriting of doctors without going mad!

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