How Can I Become a Medical Reimbursement Specialist?

Explore the career requirements for medical reimbursement specialists. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Medical Reimbursement Specialist?

A medical reimbursement specialist falls under the umbrella category of health information technician. Medical reimbursement specialists work in the medical coding and billing field and use a number of clarifying systems to categorize and code patient details and information. This is done to keep patient's medical and treatment histories up to date for the purposes of insurance reimbursement.

The following table gives you an overview of what you need to know about this profession.

Degree Required Certificate or associate's degree; Bachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Health information technology
Certification Required by most employers; available through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
Key Skills Office management, knowledge of medical terminology, attention to detail
Job Growth (2018-2028) 11% (for all medical records and health information technicians)*
Median Salary (2018) $40,350 (for all medical records and health information technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Medical Reimbursement Specialist Do?

As a medical reimbursement specialist, your responsibilities would usually include coding medical histories and treatment protocols, maintaining patient and office records, and billing private and public insurance carriers. You might work at a medical clinic, insurance company, consulting firm, government office or software company. You'd probably work full-time hours, and might have to work some evenings or weekends if your job is in a hospital, since they're open 24-7. Medical reimbursement specialists may also be called medical records or health information technicians, as well as coders, librarians, registrars or transcriptionists.

What Education or Certification Will I Need?

A certificate or associate's degree in health information technology is usually required to work in medical reimbursement. Programs include courses in classification and coding systems, anatomy, physiology, statistics and medical software. Medical terminology, billing, office procedures and insurance reimbursement are other topics. Some programs feature a 200-hour internship.

Professional certification is required by most employers, and may help you with career advancement as well. A number of different credentials are available, depending on what medical area you'll be working in. For example, you could become certified as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or, if you're working with cancer patients, you might obtain a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) credential. Both of these certifications are available through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). You'll want to be aware that you might need a bachelor's degree for some certifications.

What's the Outlook for This Job?

With the increasing need for medical care in the aging U.S. population, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects job growth of 11% for medical records and health information technicians, which is much faster than the average for all jobs. You'll probably have the best opportunities if you're certified in health information, due to the growing use of electronic medical records. The BLS also reports that medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual salary of $40,350 in 2018.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another related occupation in healthcare is a medical and health service manager. Having earned at least a field-appropriate bachelor's degree, they are responsible for designing and overseeing medical and health services. This includes oversight of the duties of medical reimbursement specialists. These managers must be aware of changes in laws, technology and regulations that relate to healthcare and see that all employees in their facility comply with the updates.

A postgraduate certificate or an associate's degree may qualify you to become a medical transcriptionist. These workers listen to voice recordings of reports made by physicians and other clinical professionals and convert them to the written word. They also are called upon to interpret any medical terminology and abbreviations in a patient's record to make the information more clearly and readily understood.

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