If you’ve decided to pursue a career in medical billing and coding, then the odds are high that you have some questions regarding how to break into the industry. Before you can land your dream job as a medical coder, it’s important that you get the absolute most of your classes and program en route to receiving a medical coding certificate.
Not only will employers look for completion of these certifications when you’re applying to open positions, but they’ll also expect you to be able to speak intelligently regarding the subject matter and its finer points. Take a look at these few tips for those seeking a medical coding certificate:
Understand the differences between medical coding and medical billing
Medical coding and medical billing are typically referred to so interchangeably that many people have come to be under the impression that the two are the same thing. Quite on the contrary, there are distinct and important differences between the two terms that need to be understood thoroughly by those looking to enter the field. A large part of the reason for this confusion is undoubtedly that the two separate functions are often performed by individuals who work in very close proximity to one another. In fact, According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, both of these procedures are actually frequently encompassed in one position.1
Medical billers use given codes to indicate to payment agencies, insurance companies and clearing houses which procedures have been performed for a patient by their practice. In order to schedule these billings, billers rely on coders to provide them with accurate informational codes representing any and all combinations that a given practice could have provided.
Be aware that the industry is subject to change
Whether you’re only now beginning to consider enrolling in a program to earn your medical coding certificate or are already near the end of your coursework, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming implementation of ICD-10. If you aren’t already familiar, medical coding is based on a sort of language, a series of codes, that represent procedures performed by a given practice.
These codes are used to inform billing agencies of what procedures were given to a patient and, by way of that, what services need to be charged for and how much they cost. For a considerable period of time, ICD-9 has been the industry standard for medical coding, but ICD-10 is expected to release by autumn of 2015.2 Ask any practices that you’re interviewing with how prepared they are for this change.
Understand the tangible and intangible benefits of certification
If you’re just beginning the journey to become a medical coder, then you may be considering teaching yourself the ins and outs of billing and coding. This can make sense for a lot of people, as the initial overhead to earn your certification will be an expense. It’s worth noting, though, that many practices are more willing to hire individuals with true certifications than those without. Why not give yourself that edge? Also, as an added bonus, certified coders average a 21 percent higher salary than non certified ones.3
1) “The American Academy of Professional Coders, ‘What is Medical Coding?'” 1/9/2015 https://www.aapc.com/medical-coding/medical-coding.aspx
2) Conn, Joseph, Modern Healthcare, ‘Physician Anxieties Linger as CMS Sets Oct. 1, 2015Conversion Date for ICD-10,’ 5/1/2014 http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20140501/NEWS/305019938
3) “The American Academy of Professional Coders, ‘Medical Coding Certification,” 1/9/2015 https://www.aapc.com/certification/medical-coding-certification.aspx