Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Medical billing and coding jobs are ideal opportunities for those who want to work at home. There are many opportunities to train and work from home in the rapidly growing health care field. However, while there are many legitimate businesses out there, there are several that are scams that do not deliver the training or jobs they promise.
Medical Billing and Coding Jobs
Medical billers and coders type and compile medical information for billing and insurance purposes. A standardized set of codes are assigned to every diagnosis and procedure. These codes are used to determine whether hospitals and doctors will be reimbursed by Medicare and other health insurance programs and, if so, how much.
Some medical billers and coders specialize in cancer registry, which has specific codes for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and tumors.
Billing and coding take place in office settings with no direct contact with patients. Many health care companies allow billers and coders to work from home.
Education and Training
Many community colleges and vocational schools offer courses in medical billing and coding. Courses include typing, medical office procedures, medical terminology, data management and health data standards. Those who graduate from a two-year associate's degree program and pass a written examination may become registered health information technicians (RHITs).
Only students who attend a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) may take the RHIT examination. If the program is not accredited, the student may not take the exam. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 200 CAHIIM-accredited programs in the United States.
Salary and Outlook
Medical records and health information jobs, including billing and coding, are expected to grow by 18 percent through 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is faster than average. The average annual earnings in the field is in the mid-$20,000s, the bureau reported.
Because of the attractive possibility of working from home in the relatively secure health care industry, there are many medical billing and coding skills-and-job banks that are disreputable. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has brought charges against many of these fraudulent companies.
To protect yourself, ask the school or job bank for references and contact information of past clients. Contact those clients to find out if they were satisfied with the services rendered.
Ask local doctors, hospitals and medical billing companies about job possibilities in your area. Ask if they know of reputable schools or billing/coding companies.
Consult the state attorney general's office and licensing board, consumer protection agencies and the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the specific program. A lack of reports does not guarantee the business's legitimacy; unscrupulous owners may merely move or change names.
Check with the medical billing/coding software manufacturer to find out if there have been problems with the program or company.
Get the program's return policy and all other information in writing and carefully review it before signing. If a representative tries to pressure you, walk away.
Consult an attorney before signing a contract.
If there is a problem, file a complaint with the FTC, the state attorney general's office, the Better Business Bureau and/or the local consumer protection office. If you learned about the program or job bank through an offer in the mail, the U.S. Postal Service may be able to investigate. Contact the local postmaster.
It is essential for medical billers and coders to type quickly and accurately. They often need to turn in their work within 24 hours. Coding errors may cost patients and medical facilities thousands of dollars in lost revenue and in lost productivity because of the time needed to correct errors.
2016 Salary Information for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual salary of $38,040 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical records and health information technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $29,940, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $49,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 206,300 people were employed in the U.S. as medical records and health information technicians.
Laura Brestovansky is a Michigan-based writer with more than 25 years experience. Her work has appeared on countless websites as well as in local newspapers such as the Oakland Press, the LA View and The Michigan Catholic. She has an honors degree in journalism from Eastern Michigan University.