Coding is as much an art as it is a science. For example, if the surgeon removes an appendix at the same time he does the operating the way the coder sends the information to the billing department can make a difference of thousands of dollars. This is why coders have gained so much more recognition in the past few years.
The medical and healthcare industry continues to grow at a rapid rate. With this growth come the jobs. However, Medicare and third party insurance companies have put in place strict compensation guidelines that health care professionals must follow in order to get paid.
Medical coders analyze the health care providers documentation so they can record information for the health care reimbursement process, and assist in medical research and statistics. Although many doctors would rather collect payment immediately after the office visit or hospital stays, it is just not possible today. Majority of people now have health insurance. To get reimbursed, fees for medical services need to be handled by filling a claim with the patients health insurance providers, government entities, or managed care organization.
The medical coder does not make up codes or code from memory. Each type of encounter, services, supplies and procedures, tests and treatments provided to a patient have a code which consists of a set of numbers and combinations of sets of numbers. Even simple complaints such as a bruised elbow have a specific code. The coder selects appropriate codes from different existing coding systems for different purposes.
Filling a claim for reimbursement involves examining patients records; identify diagnoses then selecting the appropriate codes for the services preformed. It is the responsibility of the medical coder to correctly code data from the medical record into alphanumeric codes.
In order to find the codes, the medical coder uses standard industry code books: ICD for diagnoses, CPT for procedures and HCPCS for Medicare claims. Medical coders also have to enter these codes into databases and submit associated claims electronically for each encounter efficiently.
Medical research constantly leads to new discoveries. Medical coders must be up to date with new approaches and techniques and understand them when filling a claim. In order to stay current, medical coders are expected to takes classes throughout their career.
There are over 10,000 codes that a coder has to choose from. Coding is anything but simple. Therefore employers prefer to have trained, certified employees. A medical coder should be proficient with different types of regulations, insurance plans and codes. Those looking to become medical coders should have high school courses in algebra, biology, computer skills, English, typing, office procedures, data processing, and health occupations/medical professions education. An associates degree is highly recommended and is generally two years in lengths.
Medical coders must be organized and detail orientated. Good communication skills are also required. A medical coding certificate can be obtained online and will provide you with the necessary skills to allow you to gain employment in a number of health care facilities.
The courses included the following:
- Expanded Medical Terminology for Healthcare Professionals
- Anatomy and Physiology for Medical Office Professionals
- Medical Coding I
- Medical Coding II
- Medical Insurance and Billing
The annual average for medical coders is 33,300. There are various things that Medical coders can do to get paid faster and increase their income. Many skilled coders have set up their own coding business at home. In order to be a successful work at home medical coder you need to have a lot of experience, since it is easy to get scammed in this business. Many companies offer supplies and training that are inadequate. Home based medical coders make about $40,000 if they are successful.
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