Are you interested in working in the healthcare field but don't want to spend four years earning a bachelor's degree?
If so, you'll be excited to know that in less than 18 months, you could be a member of one of the fastest-growing employment fields available to holders of a high school diploma or GED—medical billing and coding.
Medical coders read the documents written by the doctors or nurses and apply the appropriate procedure codes, and medical billers assign codes and insurance information and insert them into the billing software.
It's Easy To Learn Medical Coding
Medical coding involves assigning a set of numbers and letters to specific diagnoses, treatments, and diseases for the purpose of billing insurance companies and keeping accurate office records. You will mainly use three different reference books to look up these codes: the ICD-10-CM, the ICD-10, and the CPT.
Created by the World Health Organization, the 10th revision of The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) not only contains medical codes for diseases and their symptoms but also codes for abnormal findings and causes of disease or injury. The ICD-10-CM (Clinical Modifications) is a separate reference manual containing more detailed coding than the ICD-10, nearly 70,000 codes, in fact.
Medical codes meant to report diagnostic, surgical, and medical services and procedures to doctors and insurance agencies are found in the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) manual. You will use CPT codes in conjunction with ICD-10-CM codes as a medical coder or biller. You may also be responsible for translating doctors' notes into the appropriate medical codes.
Commonly Used Medical Codes
To facilitate finding applicable codes, the ICD-10 organizes 22 chapters into similar subjects. For example:
- Metabolic, nutritional, and endocrine disease codes are found under E00-E90 codes
- Parasitic and infectious diseases are listed under A00-B99 codes
- Nervous system diseases are listed under G00-G99 codes
- Circulatory system diseases are listed under I00-I99 codes
If a patient is diagnosed and treated for influenza (an infectious disease), you would look under A00-B99 codes and find a code designating influenza. In this case, ICD-10-CM codes for influenza would be found between J09 and J18.
Other codes used frequently by medical coders include:
- 99201-05 (new patients-office visit)
- 99211-15 (existing patients-office visit)
- J0561 (penicillin injection)
- 82962 (blood glucose test)
- 85018 (blood count-hemoglobin)
- 65205 (removal of foreign body from the eye)
- 93000 (complete electrocardiogram)
- 90716 (chicken pox vaccine)
You can explore more medical codes provided by the American Medical Association.
The Outlook For Jobs
The BLS refers to medical coders as "health information technicians." According to the BLS, the average annual salary for medical billers and coders is near $38,040. The job outlook for medical coders over the next 10 years is expected to increase by 15 percent, a much faster rate compared to other types of employment.
Learn Medical Terminology
In addition to codes, you will also learn about medical coding terminology as part of your certification program. You'll also acquire a variety of these medical terms and abbreviations while on the job, depending on the type of medical coding you do (physician, dentist, surgeon, etc).
Medical coding terminology includes words and phrases such as "disability insurance," "inpatient hospital services," and "peritoneal dialysis." In fact, medical coders and billers can be as familiar with anatomy and diagnoses from the medicine and healthcare field as physicians!
Is This For You?
Now that you’ve seen a sample of the things you’ll learn, what do you think? Are you ready to launch your own career as a medical biller or coder? Find a school to get started!