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What Does a Medical Billing Specialist Do?
Jobs in the medical administrative field are in high demand and are expected to grow at a steady pace through 2016. If you are considering a career change, training to become a medical billing specialist usually takes less than a year and offers a rewarding career and a stable income. It is a job that is respected in the medical industry and is considered invaluable by many employers.
About Medical Billing Specialists
Medical billing specialists are trained professionals, skilled in the medical office billing process. When a patient receives receives services from a doctor or other medical provider, the information is coded and processed. Medical billing specialists work with both parties responsible for payment of the invoice bill--the patient and his insurance companies. Because they work with confidential patient records, medical billing specialists are required to be professional and discreet.
There is a great deal of sorting and filing of paperwork involved in the job description of a medical billing specialist. These professionals are responsible for submitting insurance claims for both private companies and Medicare. They also must work with insurance fraud cases when the need arises. Invoices received by patients are generated by medical billing specialists. In many offices, medical billing specialists are called medical reimbursement professionals. The medical billing specialist helps maintain a positive cash flow for the office.
Getting the Job
Medical billing specialists generally go through a nine-month training program which can be found at most allied health schools as well as technical and vocational schools. These programs lead to certification as a medical billing specialist. Some community colleges also may offer the training as a two-year associates degree program. In addition, there are a wide variety of online programs available that allow prospective medical billing specialists to study at their own pace from home.
Certified medical billing specialists can enjoy a wide range of job opportunities and employers. Hospitals and other large medical facilities usually employ a good number of medical billing specialists. Many private physician's offices also employ one or more medical billing specialist. Qualified individuals can also find opportunities in clinics, government agencies, home health care businesses and private medical billing businesses. Some medical billing specialists choose to work under contract, accepting work from one or more physicians or facilities, and complete the work through a home office.
Salary ranges for a medical billing specialist vary by geographic region. According to an August 2009 survey from Payscale.com, the median starting salary for a beginning medical billing specialist ranges from $10.09 to $14.43 an hour. After a year, the pay range can increase from $11.38 to $14.79 an hour. Medical billing specialists with five or more years of job experience report earning from $12.95 to $16.59 an hour. Those with at least 10 years of experience can expect to earn from $13.67 to $17.52 an hour.
Sherry Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Middle Tennessee State University and has been writing for more than a decade. She is a full-time government reporter in Sumner County, Tenn.