Considering a Career in Medical Coding? Here’s What You Should Know

online degree programsIf you’re interested in attending online degree programs or trade certification programs, there are many exciting careers to choose from. For prospective students looking into the healthcare industry, one job in particular is in high demand: medical coders. Even though the future of the U.S. healthcare system may be in flux right now, there’s no doubt that medical coders will continue to be in high demand in the years to come.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and their 2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the field of Medical Coders is expected to increase by 21% from 2010 to 2020. Keep reading to learn more about this important healthcare profession, an ideal choice for students attending online degree programs.

5 Fast Facts About Medical Coding Careers:
1. What Do Medical Coders Do Anyway?
As regulations designed to prevent insurance fraud and Medicare abuse become more common, medical coders play a crucial role in safeguarding our medical system. A medical coder’s responsibility is to translate medical records into the industry-standard code used by insurance companies, healthcare programs, and other statistic gathering organizations. They ensure the accuracy of the information used to describe services and conditions.

2. Understanding the ICD-10
ICD-10 stands for the 10th version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, which contains 14,000 unique medical codes. However, the U.S. version of the ICD-10 contains 68,000 medical codes.

3. Without Medical Coders, the Healthcare System Would Come Grinding To a Halt
The codes entered by these healthcare workers allow medical billers to submit claims in a timely and legally justifiable manner for reimbursement. Medical coders use and write codes that comply with federal and state laws and contractual obligations to make sure that the patient gets the best quality of care.

4. This Is One of the Few Healthcare Positions That Doesn’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree
Medical coding does not require a nursing degree, but a bachelor’s or a master’s degree can certainly strengthen a medical coder’s career. These degrees are not required to show proficiency, however. A solid foundation of medical terminology education is needed for that. For that reason, it is advised to complete a medical coding certification online course. This will allow you to get your medical coding certifications before applying for open positions.

5. Medical Coders Need Certification
There are many options to get these skills, from community colleges and online classes. Most programs can be completed in 18 to 24 months. Accreditation as a coder requires between 700 and 1,000 hours of coursework in fields like physiology and anatomy. AAPC, a credentialing body for medical coders, offers several medical coding classes.

At the end of your course of study, you will be prepared to take a certification exam to become a certified, professional medical coder. That certification lets employers know that you’ve come to understand coding rules and have demonstrated a high level of accuracy in translating patient charts into the correct insurance bill codes.

An entry-level medical coder will often act in close contact with medical billers to create accurate healthcare claims for either the insurance or the patient payment. That is generally the scenario in a physician’s practice or an outpatient clinic.

Medical coders are just one of many careers you can pursue after attending online degree programs.

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