Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an insurance billing and coding specialist. Learn about educational requirements, certifications, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist?

Insurance billing and coding specialists manage and code patient records for insurance reimbursement purposes. This means providing each medical procedure with the necessary insurance code used to complete the billing process. Some employers may separate out billing and coding duties into two distinct positions. You may also have the title of administrative medical assistant, medical coding specialist, medical records coder, medical records technician or health information technician.

In order to do your job, you will need to be willing to learn to use electronic health record systems, as most billing and coding these days happens digitally. You should also be comfortable with the idea of acting as a liaison between clinicians and the billing offices.

The table below includes important information about this career.

Education Required Diploma or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Health information technology or insurance billing and coding
Key Skills Use insurance coding to bill insurance companies and patients
Certifications Available Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 15% for medical records and health information technicians*
Average Salary (2015) $40,430 for medical records and health information technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Will I Do?

As an insurance billing and coding specialist, your main responsibility will be to correctly apply the proper insurance code for every procedure that a patient receives. This information is then supplied to the insurance company to begin the billing process. After the insurance company makes a payment, you'll adjust the patient's account. Then, you must typically contact the patient with regard to any balance left to be paid.

Some procedures may have several different codes based on why the procedure was completed and other circumstances. The wrong code could cause the patient's insurance company to not cover the procedure, which results in a billing problem. You would then need to communicate directly with the insurance company and patient to resolve the situation.

What Are the Education Requirements?

To become an insurance billing and coding specialist, the minimum requirement that some employers request is a high school diploma. However, an associate degree or a diploma in insurance billing and coding is usually required. Classes that you can expect to take during a program include medical terminology, coding, anatomy, pharmacology, health information management, customer service, computer science and health care operations.

You might also want to gain certification with the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) as a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). To gain a CPC credential, you'll need to provide proof of medical coding experience, pass an exam and complete continuing education (www.aapc.com). The AAPC further recommends that you earn your associate degree before applying. You can also receive certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and in a variety of coding specialties, such as surgery, dermatology, pediatrics or cardiology.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that the average annual salary for all medical records and health information technicians was $40,430 as of 2015 (www.bls.gov). Job openings were anticipated to increase 15% from 2014-2024, which is faster than average growth. Those who have related certifications should have the best prospects.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Medical transcription is another administrative career in the healthcare field, and you can find a job as a medical transcriptionist after completing a certificate program. Your job will be to turn voice recordings of physicians into written text, as well as editing medical documents and interpreting terminology and abbreviations. You could also consider a career as an information clerk, which isn't necessarily in the healthcare industry. This career involves performing clerical duties for a company such as providing information to customers or maintaining records. This career requires a high school diploma, but some employers prefer an associate's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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