Providing healthcare in the United States is big business. Ever since the private healthcare system was implemented in 1965 in the form of Medicare and Medicaid, a huge private medical sector has grown with privately owned facilities mushrooming all over. Various healthcare insurance programs are supported by private health insurance providers or by the respective states in which the patients reside in. All this monetary activity and transfer of payments has created a huge demand for medical billing and coding professionals. Due to the relative ease with which the relevant degrees and certification can be acquired, it has become a promising career for many.
Though hospitals and medical facilities are always ready to receive emergencies and treat them to the best of their abilities, the real problem starts with footing the bill which can run into tens of thousands of dollars. As only a small affluent segment of the population is able to pay the full amount, in most cases the payments are made via a complex interplay of health insurance companies and government health programs such as Medicare, TRICARE, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance program. This is where medical billing comes in, which entails the processing of all the related bills and ensuring that they are paid in time by the parties concerned. However, due to the large number of medical complications that require an equal number of medical procedures to be performed on the afflicted patients, there is an extensive medical coding system that has been developed in order to classify them. A unique code is used to refer to each and all medical procedures performed and services rendered in a particular case so as to identify the amounts that have to be reimbursed to the medical institution in question. Before the advent of computers, this used to be a very cumbersome process, with myriad cards and filing cabinets containing the relevant records. However, all such processes have now been computerized and this has made acquiring the relevant medical billing and coding degrees and certification all the more easier to attain.
Medical billing and coding degrees
There are a large number of universities and educational institutions in the US that offer a wide variety of medical billing and coding degree programs and diplomas for certification. However, the advantage to being a part-time of full-time student of a degree program is that you will be able to develop a holistic understanding of the procedural language and the diagnostic jargon that comes into play. This mostly revolves around making sense of the various codes that have to be either converted into an ICD-9-CM code such as for medical procedures or a five-digit based CPT Code in the case of diagnoses. Everything from a minor headache or a sprain to bullet and accidental injuries and heart transplants has a specific code and successfully identifying them and using them to initiate the appropriate billing process are the prime responsibilities of a medical biller and a coder.
Before getting your mind set on acquiring one of the numerous bachelors’s or master’s medical billing and coding degrees out there, you might want to consider an associate’s degree as not only can it be completed less than two years but its credits also count towards the requirements of a bachelor’s degree. Though a bachelor’s degree program takes around two years to complete, it doesn’t just limit your exposure to an understanding of medical billing and coding but opens up more career options by certifying you in either Health Care Administration or in Health information Management. The master’s degree takes things a step further by getting you qualified for being a healthcare administrator or a general business one.