Medical coding is a specific function that many medical offices rely on to ensure proper billing to insurance companies. While the position might coincide with record administration, medical coding specialists do not oversee the entire record keeping of the medical practice. Their job is to select the most appropriate “codes” for the job completed by the physician. This ensures that the physician will be paid properly for the work completed and it will also protect the physician from insurance fraud (a big no-no but widespread fraud).
What does a Medical Coding Specialist do? Well to explain this more simplistically we should quickly take a look at how physicians get paid. Let’s use a Dentist for example. When a dentist completes a routine cleaning on a patient, called a prophylaxis, the insurance comapny of the patient will need to be billed for the procedure in order for the dentist to get paid. One of the staff in the office will be responsible for knowing what numerical code represents the “prophylaxis” in order for the dentist to get paid. If the dentist doesn’t bill the insurance company, the dentist won’t get paid. The same thing goes for any physician, not just dentists. This is why medical coders are an important role in any medical office.
How much doe Medical Coding Specialists get paid? It depends on on where you are looking for work. Private practice physicians might not have enough straight billing for a medical coder, so the medical coder will end up having other functions, such as reception work. Hospitals are a great place to work for strictly medical coding. So much billing needs to be done and few know their way around a medical coding book to complete the task. Depending on the practice, you can expect anywhere from $30,000 – $65,000.
How to become a Medical Coding Specialist. It doesn’t take a whole lot of schooling to get your foot in the door suprisingly. Some offices will be willing to train you too. A more solid way to gain entry though is via an associates degree. There are numerous community colleges that offer coding programs. You can get more information from your local college about their specific programs offered. Some universities even offer some Bachelors leveled programs, though associates degree is usually enough.
As a medical coder, your not going to have much hands on experience with patients. You are going to be the direct line to the insurance companies. Some people find this a very rewarding job, while others, not so much. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, continue to check out the medical careers list for other positions!