The Growing Importance of Medical Billing and Coding

Whenever a person has an appointment with a health care provider or receives treatment for an illness or injury, the information about the visit and treatment gets entered into their health record. Visit information also gets sent to the patient’s insurance company, which decides whether to cover the costs or not.

A system of codes is used to share information about a patient’s care between a provider’s office and insurers. At each practice, there’s at least one person responsible for inputting the correct codes and ensuring billing takes place. 

Medical billing and coding is playing an increasingly important role in health care, and will only grow in the future.

What Is Medical Billing and Coding?

Every doctor’s visit, test, and procedure has an assigned Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code. CPT codes create a uniform language health care providers can use when communicating with public and private insurers and seeking reimbursement. The codes reduce confusion, as the meaning of a particular code is the same across practices and insurers. 

For example, the code for a standard 15-minute office visit is 99213. A provider can use that code when billing the patient’s insurance company and the insurer will know at a glance that the patient saw their doctor for a 15-minute visit. 

Since insurers make reimbursement decisions based on the codes used in an invoice, it’s critical that the codes be correct. If a code is off by a digit or the wrong code is used entirely, the insurer can deny the claim.

What Do Medical Coders Do?

Medical coders are responsible for maintaining patient files and entering the correct codes into patient records. They typically work for medical practices, liaising between the practice and insurance companies. 

In addition to providing codes for use in billing, medical coders also assign codes to patients’ files to communicate treatment and care plans with other providers.

How Can You Become a Medical Coder?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that career opportunities for medical coders will grow by 8% over the next 10 years, considerably faster than for all other occupations. If you want to become a medical coder, a medical billing and coding certification program will prepare you for the career.

In medical coding and billing school, you’ll learn medical terminology, coding systems, and anatomy and physiology. The certificate program will also cover the basics of medical records, safety and security procedures, ethical and legal responsibilities, and the fundamentals of the disease process. 

Orange Technical College’s medical coding and billing certificate program is available both in-person at our Avalon campus and online. It requires 1,100 hours and typically takes 12 months to complete.

After finishing the certificate program, you’ll be ready to take the Certified Professional Coder exam from the American Academy of Professional Coders or the Certified Coder Associate exam from the American Health Information Management Association.

What Is the Typical Medical Coding and Billing Salary?

The median annual salary for medical coders was $47,180 in May 2022, slightly higher than the median salary for all occupations. Salaries for medical coders vary based on the industry they work in. Those who work in hospitals tend to earn significantly more than coders employed by private physician offices. 

What Is the Medical Billing and Coding Work Environment Like?

The work environment for a medical coder largely depends on their industry. Those who work in a physician’s office will typically have a 40-hour week and a standard 9 to 5 experience. Coders who work in hospitals or in settings where health care is provided 24/7 may have a less conventional schedule, with nights and weekends expected or required.

If a career in the medical field is calling to you, consider getting started as a medical coder. Request more information to learn about Orange Technical College’s medical billing and coding certificate today.