With postsecondary certificate, though more often with an associate's degree, you may land a position as a medical coder. This makes you a member of a team that ensures accurate and timely communication between a medical facility, the insurance provider and the patient in regard to payment for services. Though certification is not technically mandatory, many employers require it.
Medical insurance coding educational programs prepare students to code data for insurance billing purposes. Students go on to work in hospitals, physicians' offices and other health care settings where they enter information into computer systems and act as the interface between the medical office and billing companies. Medical insurance coders need some postsecondary education in the field, and they can earn voluntary certification.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or certificate|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||15% for all medical records and health information technicians*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$37,110 for all medical records and health information technicians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Medical Insurance Coding Career Information
Medical insurance coders are part of the group of workers known as medical records and health information technicians. These professionals specialize in coding and entering patients' medical information into computer systems for purposes of reimbursement. Using classification systems software, they input a specific code for each medical procedure done on patients. This code, in turn, determines the amount the medical facility will be paid from the patient, insurance company, Medicaid or Medicare.
Career and Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of medical records and health information technicians was projected to grow 15% between 2014 and 2024. The increase in the number of medical exams and procedures performed is a large factor contributing to this job growth. The BLS also reports that medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual salary of $37,110 in May 2015.
Educational Requirements for a Career in Medical Insurance Coding
Educational requirements for medical insurance coders may vary by employer, though most of these professionals hold associate degrees. Medical insurance coding programs are offered at 2-year community or technical colleges and culminate in diplomas, certificates and associate's degrees. Students take courses in medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, health care reimbursement and health records. They may also become familiar with International Classification of Diseases (ICD) coding. Students might also participate in clinical internships to gain hands-on training.
Certification, although not a requirement, demonstrates a medical insurance coder's credentials. Several organizations offer certification to individuals that pass examinations, such as the Board of Medical Specialty Coding and the American Academy of Professional Coders.
According to the BLS, employers tend to favor medical insurance coders who've earned the Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credential offered by the American Health Information Management Association. Applicants must have associate's degrees from approved education programs and pass a certification examination. RHITs must maintain certification by earning 20 continuing education units per year.
Earning an appropriate associate's degree is the surest way to become a medical coder. Professional certification is often required; the preferred credential being Registered Health Information Technician. Employment opportunities are projected to increase at a much faster rate than the national average rate for all occupations.