Healthcare Reimbursement Career Options and Requirements

Health care reimbursement is generally studied through an associate degree program in medical records keeping and billing. Continue reading for an overview of the training, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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An associate's degree and certification is all that's required of those wishing to pursue a career in health care reimbursement. Career opportunities in this field are available for medical secretaries, medical record technicians and medical reimbursement specialists.

Essential Information

Detailed knowledge of medical billing and coding is required for positions involving health care reimbursement. Professionals with such knowledge may find work in a number of areas involving medical records-keeping, billing and insurance. Some education in the form of specialized training, an associate degree or a specialized certification is usually required by employers.

Career Medical Secretary Medical Records and Health Information Technician Medical Reimbursement Specialist
Education Requirements Associate degree; certification may be required Associate's degree and certification Associate's degree and certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 21%* 15%* 15% for all medical records and health information technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $33,040* $37,110* $40,417**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **Salary.com (2016)

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Career Options

Individuals with specialized health care reimbursement education in the form of college degrees or certifications might find work as medical secretaries, medical record technicians, health information technicians or certified medical reimbursement specialists.

Medical Secretaries

Medical secretaries perform basic secretarial job duties such as setting up appointments and working with medical records. While medical secretaries don't typically focus only on reimbursement, their responsibilities can include related tasks, such as coding, billing and insurance processing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the BLS, job growth for medical secretaries is expected to be 21% from 2014-2024. Medical secretaries earned median annual wages of $33,040 as of May 2015.

Medical Records & Health Information Technicians

Medical records and health information technicians have more specialized job duties. They specifically work with the records systems of hospitals to ensure that information is recorded accurately. Health care institutions are increasingly adopting electronic health records (EHR) systems that help maintain and manage medical reports. Medical records and health information technicians must learn how to use these systems correctly.

These professionals properly record relevant information such as treatments that have been given or recommended, symptoms, medical history, examinations, results and many other types of medical data. Further specialization and reimbursement responsibilities can occur based on the size of a technician's place of employment, according to the BLS. For example, a technician in a larger treatment facility might be assigned only to medical coding for the purpose of reimbursement.

The BLS states that job growth for individuals who are well trained in records and health information is expected to occur at a faster than average rate of 15% from 2014-2024, since knowledge of computers and technology is in demand by employers. The median annual income of these professionals was $37,110 as of May 2015.

Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialists

The Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) credential is granted by the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA). It is an entirely voluntary certification that was put into place to help promote professionalism in the area of medical billing. CMRS seekers must pass an exam given by the AMBA to receive certification and complete 15 credits' worth of ongoing education each year to maintain it. The exam covers areas such as insurance, managed care, ICD-9-CM coding, information technology and anatomy and physiology. Professionals with a CMRS credential demonstrate their medical billing skills and knowledge in hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices. According to Salary.com, the median annual salary of a health care reimbursement specialist was $40,417 in 2016.

Educational Requirements

The BLS states that many employers of medical records and health information technicians favor professionals with a Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credential. An associate degree in a subject such as medical billing and coding or health care reimbursement specialist is the norm for those entering into this occupation. Medical secretaries may also need to acquire this knowledge and may do so through training programs, an associate degree or certifications specifically for medical secretaries.

Medical secretaries, health information technicians and reimbursement specialists all need knowledge of medical billing and coding, usually gained through a 2-year degree program. A full understanding of electronic records systems will greatly boost the chances of landing a position in this field.

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