Growing Occupations: Medical Coders and Billers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for medical records and health information technicians, including medical coders and billers, is predicted to be 22 percent through 2022—much higher than the overall average job growth. A total of 41,100 new jobs in these fields are expected to be added throughout the U.S. during this time.
This considerable growth is caused by a number of factors. First, Baby Boomers—the country’s largest generation—are aging and will need medical care for age-related conditions. Second, people are living longer, which means there’s an increased demand for healthcare. Third, thanks to healthcare reform, an increasing number of Americans have access to medical care. Fourth, more and more treatments are being developed for chronic and lifestyle-related conditions. And fifth, with the rise in use of electronic healthcare records, there will be a corresponding increase in the demand for medical coders and billers.
What medical coders do
A medical coder provides a key administrative service in the healthcare system. His/her job involves reviewing the treatment documentation created by a healthcare provider and assigning the appropriate code for each service provided. This code is then used to create a claim that needs to be paid by the patient or his/her insurer.
What medical billers do
A medical biller in a healthcare practice is responsible for ensuring the facility is paid for the services its providers render. He/She collects and records all of the data concerning a claim, including the charge entry, billing of the patient, and posting of the payment, as well as any follow-up with the insurer. An experienced medical biller can help streamline and optimize the billing process in order to minimize costs and time and maximize the efficiency of the process.
According to PayScale, the median annual salary for medical coders and medical billers is between $21,451 and $44,009. However, the actual remuneration varies according to location and experience. For example, a professional in Washington State can earn between $24,950 and $55,700 annually, while someone in New Jersey can earn between $32,580 and $73,100 per year. You can find a comprehensive overview of average salaries per state and percentile on the MedicalBillingandCoding.org website.
The switch from ICD9 to ICD10
As of October 2015, the U.S. healthcare system switched from the medical codes listed in ICD9 to a new set of codes in ICD10. Since this is the first time in 38 years that the codes will be updated, the number of codes will increase significantly. Additionally, there will be changes in the amount of detail allowed by the codes, as well as the terminology and injury concepts. This is necessary in order to accommodate all of the new diagnoses and treatments that have been added and developed over the years. However, it also means that the transition from ICD9 to ICD10 isn’t going to be simple, and even experienced medical coders and billers will need to educate themselves about the updated system.