How to Become a Medical Coder

Medical Coders are professionals who are experienced in correctly capturing a medical encounter or appointment and preparing that information for the medical billing department.

Their work is important in accurately recording health care services and begins after a patient has received medical attention from a medical practitioner or professional.

Individuals who want to become a Medical Coder will need a combination of innate personal characteristics, experience and certification.

These requirements are important because of the accuracy needed to report medical billing information to insurance companies.

Education Requirements to Become a Medical Coder

Individuals who want to become a Medical Coder are not required to attend a postsecondary school in order to enter this profession.

However, due to the detailed information that these professionals are responsible for, acquiring certification in medical coding is highly recommended.

A high school diploma is required in order to attend a certification program through a community college or online school.

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Students who are still in high school are encouraged to take science classes such as biology, math, computer science and health.

After graduating from high school, individuals who want to become a Medical Coder can attain a medical coding certificate from an accredited program provided at community colleges, vocational schools and online certification programs.

The majority of these programs last approximately 18 to 24 months and covers a variety of topics to acquaint individuals with medical coding.

Medical coding programs typically include courses in: healthcare reimbursement methods, medical terminology, medical billing, classification and coding systems and computer systems.

After completing a medical coding program, individuals must then become certified in order to work in this profession.

The certification exam is administered by AAPC.

You may visit Medical Coding Certification to learn more information on becoming certified.

Medical Coder Job Description

Medical Coders are professionals who work in the healthcare industry that provide coding to various types of healthcare services, treatments and care.

There work is to assure that healthcare providers are compensated correctly depending on the services they provide.

Medical Coders will read and review client medical records and determine the type of medical service they receive to correctly bill them or their medical insurance providers.

They begin by reading an individual’s medical record then review it to determine the type of service the patient received and then properly code the healthcare service before submitting it to the medical billing department.

Although the main duties sound straightforward, there is actually a lot of detail that Medical Coders need to get through to properly assign medical codes to a specific medical service.

Medical Coders must be heavily versed in Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) in order to properly assign medical codes.

As of date, there are 9,800 medical codes that correspond to medical services.

Medical Coders will thoroughly read a nurse or doctor’s medical notes and properly determine the type of service a patient received.

They will then assign the proper code to the service and relay the information to the medical billing department who will take care of fulfilling the bill.

Medical Coder Salary and Career Path

There are no specific salary figures for Medical Coders from official sources.

However, there are salary figures for the similarly related profession of Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.

According to figures from 2012, the pay for these professionals is approximately $16.42 per hour which adds up to approximately $34,160 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including whether an individual works full time in this profession.

That majority of individuals do happen to work more than 40 hours per week.

The job outlook for Medical Coders, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians is expected to grow by 22 percent through the year 2022.

This expected growth is considered to be a faster than average growth when compared to other professions and is attributed to the increase in demand for healthcare services by the aging population needing more medical tests, procedures and treatments.

This increase in healthcare services will spur a need for Medical Coders, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians personnel.

Individuals who are interested in Medical Coding as a profession have several things to look forward to including a healthy job outlook, a challenging career, the opportunity to use their medical background and attention to detail skills to work in the fastest growing industry.

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