What is Insurance Billing?
We will first examine what this job involves before proceeding to the potential salary.
As the name suggests, the specialist enters information that is needed to file a claim to an insurance company. The necessary details generally include the patient’s name, social security number, applicable insurance ID, treatment performed, and diagnosis. To be proficient in this job, the specialist must be familiar with medical terminology, insurance terminology, insurance policies, Medicare and Medicaid requirements, and possess computer skills.
Insurance billing specialists work in hospitals, medical clinics, health care institutions, and specialty facilities, such as those treating cancer patients and rehabilitation centers. Some providers refer to the position as a medical billing specialist.
What is Medical Coding?
The coding specialist may work in tandem with the insurance biller. Consequently, some of their tasks overlap. However, the coder focuses on inputting the required health information into the computer. The correct procedure codes and patient information is crucial, as the billing specialist could be reliant on these details. Therefore, the coding specialist translates diagnostic and procedural verbiage into alphanumeric codes used by healthcare providers. As with the insurance biller, the coder must have a grasp of medical terminology, pharmacology, and diseases.
Medical coders work in the same settings as billing specialists. They are found in university hospitals, every medical specialty facility, and companies that offer billing and consulting services to the medical profession.
What about an Associate Degree?
Because of the similarities in billing and coding, many programs at the Associate level include the study of both. The online Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Medical Insurance, Billing, and Coding at Stratford University is one example. Its curriculum prepares students to work in either specialty. By learning about medical terminology, diagnostic procedures, abstract codes, and electronic medical billing, and diseases – graduates prepare for a career.
Berkeley College, with campuses in New York and New Jersey, also offers an A.A.S. in Medical Insurance, Billing, and Coding. Its 60-credit hours’ program provides an array of courses in coding, medical billing, and insurance. Also, the coursework in anatomy, physiology, psychology, and pharmacology teaches the requisite medical knowledge.
Some states require individuals to have the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential. Some states do not require individuals to obtain the CPC credential before becoming eligible for employment. You can receive CPC training and certification through the AAPC, which attest to be the largest training organization in the world for healthcare. It also offers training and certification to be a Certified Professional Biller (CPB).
The AAPC recommends individuals have an Associate degree before enrolling in its one of its credentialing programs. The CPC designation requires at least two years of work as a medical coding specialist. The CPB requirements do not specify experience; however, an Associate degree is preferable, and membership in the AAPC is necessary.
According to the AAPC’s 2018 Salary Survey, the median income for a CPB was $52,333. As with most jobs, the cost of living can have a direct bearing on the salary. California, for example, has the highest average wage of $68,698 – the wage bumps to $72,857 for those with the CPB credential. Those with the CPC earn a comparable median salary of $73,093.
Medical coders in Mississippi have the lowest income, according to the AAPC survey. Coders earn $46,524; those with a CPC or CPB earn just under $52,000.
The employment site, Glassdoor, reports the national average in medical billing and coding as $33,716. Salary.com lists the national salary range at $38,677 to $45,497. This site, as well, has medical coding and billing as one category. A third example is Payscale, which has the national average at $16.49 per hour for medical billing or coding specialists.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median wage for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians at $40,350 (2018). The job involves maintaining medical records, health data, coding, and reimbursement methods. These duties compare to insurance billers and medical coders.
There are limited jobs available as a Remote Medical Coder. Zip Recruiter highlights this group as having an average pay of $58,137. According to their data, the salaries range from $34,500 to $89,500 in the United States. Interested individuals in working remotely can find employment opportunities across various sites, such as Indeed.
The essential requirements of working and earning a higher salary in medical billing, coding, and insurance are an Associate degree and numerous certifications. A short list of additional credentials not previously mentioned is:
- Medical Documentation Certification (CDEO)
- Medical Compliance Certification (CPCO)
- Physician Practice Manager (CPPM)
- Certified Outpatient Coding (COC)
- Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
- Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
Some refer to medical specialties, such as a Certified Rheumatology Coder (CHRC) and Certified Pediatrics Coder (CPEDC). A complete list is available at AAPC.com.