A medical billing and coding diploma is one of the fastest ways to break into the healthcare industry, and is perfect for both recent high school graduates looking for work and anyone who wants a quick career change. Medical billing/coding is crucial to the healthcare process, and billers/coders facilitate the translation of medical documents into standardized codes for billing. Without them, insurance companies would have no way to discern what medical procedures were done or what is owed.
Earning a diploma can take as little as eleven months in some cases, depending on the program. If this sounds like a good career path to you, keep reading to learn more about medical billing and coding, the programs available, and how long it takes to earn your diploma and start working.
What’s A Medical Biller And Coder?
So, what exactly is a medical biller and coder, anyway? These two names are often put together, and the job description is essentially the same. When a healthcare service is performed, the healthcare professional will fill out certain forms, which are then sent to the billing department for processing. A coder/biller will look at these documents and translate them from healthcare terminology into standardized “codes,” which are then used to accurately bill insurance companies.
Since healthcare professionals and facilities do things differently, and there’s plenty of jargon in the industry, the coding system is a necessary standardization so that insurance companies don’t have to spend resources trying to figure out medical procedures and terminology.
The biller is essentially the person who puts those codes into an invoice to send out to the insurance agency. Usually, medical billers and coders are the same person, performing both tasks
What Programs Can I Choose?
If you’re looking to become a biller/coder, you’ve come at the right time. As of now, billing and coding fall under “medical records and health information”, which is a niche that’s growing exponentially according to the BLS website. With 341,000 jobs already available, the industry is expected to make an 8% leap in the next decade, adding almost 29,000 more jobs before 2029. That’s promising growth, considering “average” growth falls at somewhere between 3 and 4 percent.
There are many programs available, including online medical billing and coding programs that are fast-tracked to get you into the field quickly. This is, of course, if you’re only seeking a diploma. There are two routes you can take. You can either seek a diploma, which will get you working quickly, or you can earn an associate’s degree in about 18-24 months, depending on the program.
When it comes down to it, some employers simply prefer a degree, but the diploma should be enough to get you an entry-level position. From there, you can add further specialized certifications to earn more and open up new doors in the field.
What Will I Make?
Of course, you’ll probably want some idea of the salary you’ll be earning in this field. According to the BLS, the average salary is about $42,000 per year, or around $20/hour. Of course, this depends on your certifications, level of experience, and where you’re working in the country. Either way, you should be able to make a decent living fresh out of your training program, as medical billers and coders usually start at over $40,000 per year.
Where Can I Work?
You’ve gained your diploma, and now you’re ready to work. But where can you look? Medical billers and coders can usually find work in a variety of healthcare facilities, including long-term care facilities like nursing homes, larger settings like hospitals and medical campuses, or even in private physician’s offices.
Is It Worth It?
While the answer to this question is almost entirely subjective, if you look at it from a practical standpoint, billing and coding is definitely worth it. For starters, you won’t be spending the same amount of time (or money, for that matter) that you would in a traditional college setting for a four-year degree. That means you’re not risking as much should you not like your new position. Also, you’ll be making a decent wage straight out of school, and the niche is growing throughout the next decade. Low-risk, higher chance of reward, and flexible employment options make pursuing a billing and coding diploma a practical choice.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know everything there is to know about obtaining a medical billing and coding diploma, it’s time to find the program that’s right for you. UMA offers some great fast-track programs that are affordable and flexible, and you can earn your certification in as few as eleven months. Less than a year to change your life? That sounds like a good option to me.