Are you interested in the medical field? Do you enjoy technology? If so, you might want to consider a career in medical coding. Medical coding is a specialized skill of converting patient records into codes for billing purposes. Doctors and other health care providers use codes to bill insurance companies for services and procedures rendered.
Insurance companies require health care providers to submit special codes for procedures and services. Medical coders play a critical role in this process. The medical coder must read the patient’s medical record, determine what services the patient received, determine the diagnosis, and assign the correct codes.
Medical coders need to be detail-oriented and have good computer skills. The average salary for medical coders is $34,000 a year. However, you can increase your salary options by becoming a certified medical coder. According to the AAPC, certified medical coders earn at least 21 percent more than non-certified coders. The following are six reasons why medical coding is a smart career choice:
1. There is high demand for medical coders
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for medical coders will grow at an alarming rate of 22 percent through the year 2022. One reason for the high demand is because of new changes taking place in the industry.
Currently, medical coders are using ICD-9 classification codes. In October 2014, the healthcare industry was required by law to transition to ICD-10 codes. The new change drastically increased the demand for skilled medical coders. The implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act also played a role in the increased demand for medical coders.
2. Education can be completed in less than one year
A college degree is not required to become a qualified medical coder. Many medical coding programs can be completed in as little as six to nine months. Medical coders should gain knowledge in medical terminology, human anatomy, and physiology. Once you complete a medical coding training program, you will be able to take exams to become certified.
3. You can take medical coding courses online
There are several online medical coding programs. This is a good option if you work full time and don’t have the ability to attend a local college. Many online programs allow you to work independently at your own pace. Just make sure that your online program is approved by either AHIMA or AAPC. Career Step has an online medical coding program that can be completed in four months.
4. You Can Work from Home
Medical coders work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and surgery centers. However, there are opportunities to work from home as a medical coder. You can start your own business as an independent medical coder or obtain a telecommuting position with a health care provider or insurance agency.
5. Certifications don’t differ from state to state
Medical coding associations like AHIMA and AAPC offer national certifications, including the CPC (Certified Professional Coder) and CCS (Certified Coding Specialist). This means you don’t have to re-certify if you move to another state.
6. Advancement Opportunities
There are definite opportunities to advance in the medical coding field. Experienced medical coders can pursue positions as health information managers or coding supervisors. You will also have opportunities to advance by obtaining special certifications, or by obtaining a college degree in health information management.
If you are seeking a career change, medical coding might be a good fit for you. With the high demand for medical coders, job flexibility, and opportunities for advancement, there is no doubt that medical coding is a smart career choice. Visit AHIMA and AAPC to learn more about medical coding and approved education programs.