Should I Become a Medical Claims Adjuster?
Medical claims adjusters, also known as medical claims examiners, process medical claims, monitor medical bills for errors or uncovered items, negotiate bills when it is appropriate, and authorize the payment of medical claims. Other duties include maintaining files, watching out for fraudulent claims, and conferring with patients and doctors to gather additional information when necessary. Most medical claims adjusters work for health, life, or automobile insurance companies, although there are also opportunities for self-employment. Such professionals work in office settings, handling paperwork and using computers to complete tasks. This career is not physically demanding nor does it include risk of personal injury or illness. Long hours are spent sitting, often looking at a computer screen.
There is no standard educational requirement to become a medical claims adjuster. At minimum, individuals must have a high school diploma, and having a bachelor's degree or previous field experience opens doors for prospective candidates.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or GED at minimum; employers may prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field(s)||Healthcare, medicine, or other related field|
|Experience||Varies; at least three years of claims experience|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure is required in some states; voluntary certifications available|
|Key Skills||Written and verbal communication, interpersonal and analytical skills, familiarity with medical procedures; knowledge of medical terminology|
|Salary (2014)||$62,220 per year (Median salary for all claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Online job postings from employers (November 2012), Related professional organizations
Step 1: Get a Degree
Although it is not a strict requirement, having a bachelor's degree offers increased job opportunities for aspiring medical claims adjusters. Having a strong background in medicine or healthcare is optimal. Programs in business or accounting give students the strong math, communication, and negotiation skills needed to thrive in a business environment.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Having prior experience in medical insurance or claims processing is required or preferred by many employers. Individuals gain necessary experience by working in medical office or in a related area, such as medical billing. Experience negotiating settlements, maintaining claims files, and evaluating fraudulent claims is also beneficial.
Step 3: Become Licensed
Some medical claims adjusters need licensure; specific laws vary from state-to-state. Some states allow claims adjusters working for large companies to work under the company's license, while other states mandate all adjusters be licensed to practice. Licensure requirements include a minimum age, proof of completed education, and passing a license examination. Other licensure requirements include a criminal background check, submitting fingerprints for state records, and paying a license fee.
- Keep learning. Taking continuing education courses and attending seminars is important for medical claims adjusters since laws change and are updated frequently. Continuing education allows medical claims adjusters to stay abreast of changing technologies, processes for handling claims, and any policies regarding individual coverage.
Step 4: Earn Voluntary Certification
Voluntary certifications and designations are available through professional organizations, such as the Society of Registered Professional Adjusters (RPA) or the International Claim Association (ICA). In some cases, earning voluntary certification can increase job opportunities. Most certifications and designations require applicants to have at least five years of experience in the field. Other requirements include passing a test and completing some continuing education credits every year.