Medical billing and coding specialists play an essential role in the efficient functioning of the healthcare system. Patients, healthcare providers and insurance companies all rely on coding to ensure that proper care is provided and correct payment is received. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical billing and coding sector has seen tremendous growth and will continue to be among the fastest growing opportunities in work-from-home jobs.
A medical billing or coding specialist utilizes their knowledge of medical terminology, medications and medical treatments. The coding specialist assigns alphanumeric codes to diseases, medical procedures and medications. These codes are used by doctors and hospitals for internal record keeping, as well as tracking their performance, preventing fraud and errors that could jeopardize their patients' health. Insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid use these codes to reimburse health providers. In addition to this, the codes are used by government agencies to track public health threats, such as obesity and contagious diseases.
Medical billing and code specialists are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the shortage of qualified specialists in this sector will reach 50,000 by 2015. The rapidly aging population, along with new regulations demanding more accountability from healthcare providers, ensure that this field will experience above average growth. In addition to this, because this sector is vulnerable to fraud and incidences of malpractice, healthcare providers, pharmacies and insurance companies are hiring more specialists to ensure ethical business practices. Medical billing and coding is among the top choices for those who desire to work from home in the medical field.
To qualify to become a medical billing and coding specialist, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. While there are no set standards educational requirements to enter the field, most employers prefer candidates with at least a year of study beyond high school. Classes toward certification are offered through community colleges and four-year schools. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) are two professional organizations that offer certificate programs. In addition to this, a list of approved certificate programs can be found on AHIMA's website.
If you have a medical degree or training in the medical field and are interested in working from home, a career in medical billing and coding may be for you.