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Hospital Billing Career Info and Education Requirements

Hospital billing professionals require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Medical or hospital billing professionals are responsible for organizing, analyzing and evaluating medical insurance claim forms. They also input codes for surgeries, medical procedures, diseases and other doctor visits. Completion of a certificate program in hospital billing is required. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are also available for candidates interested in medical insurance management or health information management. Some programs offer internships as well. In addition, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the National Healthcareer Association offer multiple certifications for qualified professionals.

Required EducationCertificate program in hospital billing common; associate's and bachelor's degree degree programs available
Optional Certifications Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA), Registered Health Information Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS), Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)22% for medical records and health information technicians*
Median Annual Salary (2014)$33,701 for medical billing specialists**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Hospital Billing Career Info

Graduates of hospital billing courses and programs find employment with hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, insurance providers and medical supply companies. They can also work at home health care agencies, pharmaceutical organizations and nursing homes. Medical billing and coding professionals complete medical insurance billing procedures by submitting insurance forms, maintaining medical charts, preparing reports, scheduling appointments and greeting patients.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to grow faster than most careers in the period between 2012 and 2022, with a projected growth of 22%. According to PayScale.com, billing specialists earned between $24,611 and $44,578 in 2014, with a median annual income of $33,701.

Education Requirements

Hospital billing programs can take between six months and two years to complete and generally culminate in a certificate. Associate's and bachelor's degrees are available for those interested in medical insurance management or health information management. Programs usually include coursework in both medical billing and medical coding.

Most hospital or medical billing programs require that a student have earned a high school diploma or a GED before enrolling; there are usually no other educational prerequisites. Many hospital billing and health information programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Health Management (CAHIM).

Internships are sometimes offered in a medical billing program. During internships, students receive hands-on experience preparing insurance forms and learning coding procedures. Additional subjects of study may include reimbursement systems, data abstracting, medical documentation and terminology and electronic data interchange. Students learn how to use Medisoft software and how to reference ICD-9, HCPCS and CPT manuals; these manuals and software are used to reference medical coding and billing information.

Certification Requirements

The American Academy of Professional Coders and the American Health Information Management Association are two organizations that offer voluntary certification exams for hospital billing and coding professionals. AAPC offers the Certified Professional Coder and Certified Professional Medical Auditor credentials. AHIMA offers the Registered Health Information Administrator and Registered Health Information Technician certifications. Additionally, the National Healthcareer Association offers the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist and the Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist certification exams. Although certification is not required by law, it may improve a graduate's employment prospects.

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