Medical billing and coding is a field that will continue to grow. There are a number of daily tasks and responsibilities within the billing and coding field that tend to overlap, however this will also depend on where you are located. In smaller medical offices billers and coders will perform both tasks, where in a hospital that is a larger facility there is a department for billers and an office for coders, it is beneficial for you as an employee to understand both jobs. So what is the recommended way to becoming a medical billing and coding specialist? Below is a way to go about becoming a specialist in both the billing and the coding field.
1. Upon entering into the billing and coding profession what many do not realize is that they do not have to have experience in the field. They can start out their work as a front office receptionist answering phones and performing other clerical jobs.
2. When you have your foot in the door you should take the opportunity to speak with your coworkers and especially those that currently work as a medical biller and coder to find out the advantages and disadvantages of the career field.
3. You should ask your employer if they would consider cross training you for the billing and coding field. Some employers are receptive to this idea so do not be afraid to ask.
4. Start out your career as an insurance biller. This can also be completed through on the job training programs or even through a short program at your local vocational school or university.
5. While you are working as an insurance biller you can then take that time to study on becoming a coder. The following books will be needed to aid you in your studies include:
- ICD-9-CM (Some of this information can be found online)
- Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS)
1. Those that are currently working as a billing specialist will opt to taking a coder training programs online so that they are able to obtain their education at their own pace while still maintaining their current work schedule. The AAPC website offers online training programs for coder and billers the prices vary for those that are members so you should check their website for the current prices.
2. Once you have completed your studies and training programs, you will then need to register for the certification exam for coders. The AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) makes it easy to find exam preparation tools both online and in your area. They also offer programs that can be utilized online for you to self-study which will offer you the opportunity to study at your own pace. They inform you of the books that you will need to do your own at home study program.
3. The three books that are seen above are the same books that are listed on the website that you will be able to take with you since it is an open book test. However, it should be noted that you should consult the AAPC website for the correct edition of the books allowed for the test. The test itself has over 100 questions and will generally take approximately 5 hours to complete.
4. Lastly, you will need to find a job as a medical coder. Once you have passed the certification exam you should update your resume with your newly earned AAPC credentials. You should check with your current place of employment to see if there is a position open, or you can check with a hospital or medical organization where the coding positions are separate from the billing position.