By Holly Reisem Hanna
Would you like to work from home in an occupation that is in high-demand? Does the medical and healthcare field interest you? Then consider medical coding and billing as a home-based career option.
Medical coding and billing requires training and familiarity with medical terminology, and most employers require billers to obtain a professional coding certification. Fortunately, certification is possible in a matter of months with classes and training available online. While experience in the medical field isn’t required, if you’ve worked in healthcare before, becoming a coding and billing specialist is a great way to apply your skills and knowledge with the flexibility of working from home.
Whether you’re experienced in the medical industry or looking for a change of pace check out this interesting work-at-home opportunity.
What is Medical Coding and Billing?
Every time a doctor interacts with a patient, a code is assigned to their action. Examinations are coded, each lab test is assigned a code and prescribing medication is assigned a code as well. These numeric codes are called “Current Procedural Terminology” or CPT codes. Each diagnosis is also coded with the “International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems” or ICD-10 code. This universal numeric language ensures that doctors, healthcare providers, and insurance companies are using consistent terminology and codes.
Your job as a medical coding and billing specialist is to review the charting done by the doctor, nurse, or medical specialist and ensure that it goes onto a “bill” or form submitted to insurance companies for reimbursement. Some coders check for accuracy and overlapping codes, while others focus on insurance regulations, and billing requirements. Medical billers and coders must keep up with ever-changing codes and evolving information in the healthcare industry. Medical billing specialists help prevent fraud, waste, abuse, and errors within the medical industry by ensuring patients and insurance companies are invoiced accurately.
How Much Do Medical Coders and Billers Earn?
Medical billers and coders are in high demand! The industry need for health information technicians is projected to grow at a rate of over 13 percent in the next ten years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Due to this high growth, income and opportunities for medical billing and coding specialists are steadily increasing. On average, medical coders earn between $15-$18/hour with an average salary of around $38,000 per year. Coders and billers can earn higher pay by continuing to train and specialize in their area of focus (like psychiatry, oncology, or rheumatology).
Independent Contractor vs. Employee Status: What You Need to Know
Many work-at-home medical billing specialists work as independent contractors. This means they’re responsible to set their own hours and fees. It also means as 1099 contractors; they’re in charge of reporting income and filing their own taxes. Independent contractors take on as many or as few jobs as they like. Contractors are often responsible for providing their own equipment (including computers and printers) and invoicing the contracted business for their services.
Employees, on the other hand, work for a company directly. The company dictates their hours and parameters such as pay and benefits. Being an employee offers structure and stability but at the cost of flexibility. There are pros and cons for both situations, but if you’re working from home as an independent contractor, you'll have the freedom and the opportunity to work with multiple clients. Research the details of becoming a 1099 contractor before you begin. Keep in mind that classifications can vary by state, so be sure to check with your local Labor Department and Department of Workforce Development.
Medical Billing and Coding Education Requirements
To become a medical coder or biller, most employers require certification through the AAPC (formerly the American Association of Professional Coders). Because the job is highly detailed and there’s a lot of information to absorb, even those with a medical background such as nursing will find it helpful to take a medical billing class or participate in a program. You can take the certification exam after buying medical coding books and self-teaching, but it’s certainly more difficult.
Many certification programs are offered online and include graduate support services to assist with job placement.
According to nurse-turned-medical-coder Tricia Mitchell, “Certifying is the key to success for individuals who are new to Medical Billing and Coding because it ‘proves’ you are able to complete the job and CareerStep teaches you all of the ‘need to know’ information in order to pass the certifying exam … They sent me the contact information for my current employer, and I was able to find a remote coding position right after graduating.“
What Companies Hire Remote Medical Billers and Coders?
If you’re looking for medical billing and coding jobs, there are a few resources you should explore. If you were previously employed in the healthcare industry, you might want to network with your former employers and coworkers. Ask how they’re currently handling their office billing and if they’re outsourcing through a company or handling it all in-house.
If you’ve completed a program like CareerStep, their network of potential employers may provide you with plenty of opportunities to explore. Another option is to peruse the work-at-home job listings at the following sites:
- Altegra Health
- Conifer Health Solutions
- CSI Companies
- Mayo Clinic
- The Coding Network
- UnitedHealth Group
Watch out for Medical Billing and Coding Scams
Unfortunately, many scams exist that prey on students seeking training in the medical billing and coding industry. In fact, there are so many scams out there; the FTC has launched an investigation and crackdown on many of the scammers. Be aware there are many scams promising instant work or 30-day training programs.
If you hear of opportunities that sound too good to be true or guarantee employment right away, your radar should go off. Medical billing and coding positions require months of training and certification, and may also require you to learn on the job or gain some experience before you find work-at-home opportunities. The training service should be associated and endorsed by professional groups like the AAPC. Look for medical billing and coding training companies accredited by the Better Business Bureau as well.
Becoming a medical biller or coder is a great work-at-home opportunity. There are certainly many positions available if you’ve gone through the right training and certification. If you’d enjoy working in the medical field, billing and coding is a great area to explore!
Have you considered working as a medical coding and billing specialist? Do you know someone who is working in this field? Drop us a note below we'd love to hear from you!
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