Medical Billing and Coding Career Training Review

By on April 2, 2014

Medical Billing and Coding Training Review

Medical billing and coding career training have been getting a lot of attention.  If you are looking to get in to a growing field with a decent salary, you are on the correct path.

However like any new career you undertake, your success is determined by your effort.  Medical billing and coding is not a ‘golden ticket’.  You will have to study hard, prepare for your exams and then do well in your job interviews.

If you want to read a little about Medical Billing and Coding to get a better idea, there are some inexpensive informative books on Amazon you can check out.

Here’s a link I grabbed from Amazon… Medical Billing and Coding Basics

 

 

As I was doing research for this article I quickly discovered there were lots of acronyms for the various organizations and certifications involved with medical coding and billing.  The two main organizations for certification are AAPC – American Academy of Professional Coders which has about 130,000 members and the AHIMA – American Health Information Management Association.

There are others out there, however from my research and from what I’ve read these are the only two that really matter to employers. These two organizations and their medical billing and coding certifications are widely recognized by the medical industry.

When you do job searching please observe the type of certifications employers are asking for.  It will be from the two organizations I listed above.  Two examples are a CPB – Certified Professional Biller and a CPC – Certified Professional Coder.

I’ve read a few of the more common concerns individuals have expressed regarding employment concerns:

 

What is the starting salary for people just starting out?

You can click >>>HERE<<< to read more about Medical Billing and Coding Jobs and Salary.

As of 2010, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median annual salary for a medical billing clerk in any field was $32,170.

This salary will vary depending on region, facility and demand. Those with industry certifications will tend to out perform those without certifications.

“All of the medical billing and coding jobs will be outsourced”.

This simply isn’t the case.  Is there outsourcing taking place?  Yes.  Some organizations will always outsource.  However most organizations do not.  This option is not a good solution for most companies.  The outsourced people still need to have medical billing and coding knowledge as well.

The IT industry is a great example.  Many people were worried that all of the jobs were going to be outsourced to places like India.  Certain jobs did get outsourced, however there are still thousands of unfilled IT locally.  You can’t outsource everything.  The jobs that jet outsourced are typically the ones that are easily training and don’t have a high degree of skill.

“EMRs will take over billing”.

EMRs and EHRs have been around for YEARS and billing jobs still exists.  With all of the different insurance companies, payers and other companies involved it is extremely difficult to automate and integrate everything.  You will always need skilled workers who understand billing and coding.  This is a critical aspect of any business.  If the billing is done wrong, then the company doesn’t get paid.

What the difference between a Medical Billing and Coding ‘Certificates’ and Medical Billing and Coding ‘Certification’?

Certificatesare given out by training schools, educational institutions and colleges to demonstrate the student has completed a pre-

determined set of course/classes on a particular subject.  Each school usually has there own ‘certificate’ program.  These certificates are not recognized by health care organizations and companies as they don’t have any national recognition.

Medical billing and coding ‘certification’ is regulated by two primary organizations; the AAPC and the AHIMA.  These certifications ARE recognized by employers as having demonstrated proficiency in a particular subject area.

If you do a job search you will see employers asking for certifications from the AAPC and the AHIMA.

Getting a Medical Billing and Coding certificate from an educational institution can help you prepare to write a certification exam, although a certificate is NOT required.

Many students self study by buying material from a variety of online private companies.

Should I go to a formal school/college or do Online training?

It really depends on your lifestyle and what works best for you.  If you are young, living at home and can afford the tuition costs, then a two year college or other certificate program may be a good choice.

You’ll learn more than what is expected for the medical billing and coding exams.  Knowledge is always a good thing, however attending a school program for two years is probably overkill when you are trying to get employed as soon as possible.

Learning medical billing and coding does not take two years.

When you finish school programs you won’t be certified in billing or coding, but it will help you prepare.  Even though you finish a two year college program you will still need to write the certification exams for each subject area.

Most people when they are older, have children, families and jobs or other financial responsibilities.  They simply can’t afford the time and money it would take for a college program.  In this case Online programs for medical billing and coding are a good option as these courses allow you to study at your own pace.

Also a two year program IS NOT necessary in my opinion to learn billing and coding.  Most of my own industry certifications were done out of school by self study…and I saved thousands of dollars not taking classes. I bought books, practice tests and downloaded simulators and programs to practice on.

Most employers DO NOT care where you got your certificate from, however they DO care if you have industry certification.

Success in anything will depend mostly on the individual’s desire to succeed.  For people who are self motivated all they need are:

  1. Study materials for whatever certification desired
  2. Practice exams for each certification
  3. Software – you can download demo versions of almost anything.  Download it, use it and learn it.

If you want to spend a few dollars and work with a REAL Practice Management system with an EMR, Medical Billing, Medical Coding, Scheduling… check this out on Amazon. Think it’s around $199. It may sound a little pricey, but it gives you the opportunity to work with a REAL EMR and gives you hands-on experience. Just load it up on your laptop or home computer and start practicing.

I grabbed the link from Amazon…check it out.

Economical EMR and Practice Management Software Suite, E-PracticeSoft Professional, Patient Scheduling, Medical Billing All in One, Multiuser, Windows PCs Only

The reality is everyone who wants to get certificated will be writing the same exams regardless of what training someone took or whether it’s at home or at a school.  Medical coding and billing certification is the SAME no matter where you study.

In-class schools are definitely a nicer way to approach a new topic, however you are paying a premium for that as well. A properly motivated student will succeed no matter where they study.

There are many different software companies out there that have medical billing and coding software and applications.  The applications are all a little different, however medical billing and coding is still the same.

The best way to learn medical billing and coding is to get your ‘hands dirty’ by using related software.  A lot of applications are web based as well.

Click  >>>HERE<<< to see a list of some of the best medical billing and coding applications.

Is certification mandatory to get a job in medical billing and coding?

Certification is not mandatory to get a job in this field. However unless you have extensive experience, finding a job will be difficult.  If you lack the experience, you will have to make it up in education.

If you are just starting out, take an entry level position, build up some experience and then look for greener pastures.  You need to start somewhere.  Once you have experience AND certification you will have very marketable skills.

Remember not to be too picky with employment options when you’re starting out.  The important thing is getting the experience.

Closing Remarks… 

In closing, taking classes at an accredited school is a great option if you have the time and the money.  Class room settings are ideal and when you are in class you are focused on learning.

You will be taking other related course work toward the certificate, which is nice to have.  Having a classroom and instructor also costs a premium $$$.

On-line training has an advantage with cost and convenience.  Being able to self study while juggling work and family is important when venturing down a new career path.  Furthermore it’s highly unlikely that an individual needs two years of preparation for a couple of certification exams such as the CPB- Certified Professional Biller or the CPC – Certificed Professional Coder.

The downside of online training is the student must be motivated and dedicated to finishing the on-line studying.  Many students have done this and have been very successful.

As long as you put the time and effort in, students shouldn’t have any problems.

When you have completed you certification remember to keep upgrading your skills.  This industry is constantly changing.  As long as you keep learning upgrading your skills and doing some self study you’ll be in great shape!

There are many other related certifications in Health Information Systems, however I focused on two of the most popular for those looking for a new career in the medical field.

Medical Billing and Coding Resources For On-line Studying

I’ve linked to a few different schools below.  The materials are decent and there forums with LOTS of help and guidance.  I was surprised with how good the content was.

Whether you choose the schools below or others schools the important thing is to make a decision and act. The Billing and Coding used is the same EVERYWHERE.  Stop talking about changing careers and take action.

Wishing you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

 

 

 

 

About dkorolyk

I’ve been involved in Healthcare IT and PACS since Y2k. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in a lot of interesting an diverse projects. My experience also includes numerous HL7/EMR integration projects as well as many hardware and software platforms. My three main areas of expertise include technical integration aspects of radiology, oncology and laboratory diagnostics.

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