Medical Coding and Billing in West Virginia
The first national Medical Billers Day was held in 2008. Why celebrate the medical billing profession? Doctors offices and chiropractic offices rely on their accurate work to get claims reimbursed and bills paid. Inaccurate work can drive up medical costs for everyone. Claims can get denied because diagnosis and CPT (procedural code) are not related. An experienced medical biller and coder in West Virginia, though, may be able to contact physicians and other personnel and get supporting information that will reverse the a denied claim or just not let it happen in the first place.
Medical billing and coding specialists have a surprising range of duties. Entry level positions often combine office duties with simple medical coding. At the mid-level, Some specialize in particular branches of medical knowledge where medical coding can be quite complex and medical records may need to be abstracted. Others specialize in evaluation and management. They analyze data to determine if the appropriate level of care was provided. Some medical billing and coding specialists become specific coding specialists; others are involved in education as well as educating other health professionals.
Gaining a formal education is the first step toward this career. Medical billing and coding training can help prepare students in this specific area or a health information technology program is more in-depth but includes courses in medical billing and coding.
Medical Billing and Coding Training in West Virginia
A program in medical billing and coding will include biomedics courses (anatomy, pharmacology, medical terms and definitions) and courses in computer systems as well as coding and reimbursement systems. An associates program is usually 69-72 semester hours, but may be longer. At some schools, it's completed in traditional scheduling, in two years; the courses sequence may even be labeled freshman and sophomore. Other schools have a slower pace to accommodate adults who are raising families and/ or working full time. Some programs are offered completely online, which provides a convenient option for students with busy schedules and need flexibility. Programs may be selective to ensure success. Class/ program size may be limited and COMPASS or ACT scores may be required.
Accredited programs can be an advantage for those with career aspirations. CAHIIM has various standards pertaining to the institution as a whole and the staff and curriculum. One of the curriculum requirements is that professional practice activities are educationally focused and that there be appropriate supervision. There must be formal agreements between involved parties. Students should remember that the reputation of a school and program will be of issue to potential employers regardless of whether it has achieved accreditation status through CAHIIM.
AAPC and AHIMA offer some credentials to anyone who meets rigorous testing requirements regardless of which (if any) degree program they have completed. There are different types of certification, depending on work setting. The CPC-P Certified Professional Coder-Payer, for instance, focuses on issues from the perspective of the insurance company or other payer. It is intended for those involved with auditing, utilization management, claims review, billing and customer service -- in other words, a big part of the market that is located outside medical facilities.
Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job outlook in West Virginia
In 2009, the average wage for health technology information workers in West Virginia was $27,330. Morgantown led the state at $28,550, while populous Charleston was actually somewhat below the state mean at $24,180. These Labor Bureau averages, though, hide the large range of salaries that occur within geographic regions. HIT workers at the tenth percentile in West Virginia make $16,640 while those at the ninetieth percentile average $40,020.
What accounts for this salary discrepancy? The 2009 and 2010 AAPC salary surveys offer some clues. The importance of experience can not be overlooked. Nationwide, those with twenty years experience make about $15,000 more a year than those who have only been in the field two years. It’s not just a simple matter, though, of earning pay raises for years on the job. Experienced, proven workers can compete for a wider range of lucrative positions. The nationwide average for a medical billing coordinator was $35,804 in 2009 while a compliance manager was earning in the neighborhood of in $63,251.
Job postings often ask for experience, but, as an experienced CPC and CPMA tells job seekers on the AAPC forums, it’s really about earning trust and convincing an employer that you won’t need training. She suggests using temp agencies at career onset.
Other possible options to explore medical billing and coding jobs in West Virginia as well as to learn more about what an employer is looking include Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital, Saint Mary's Medical Center in Huntington, Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown and Wheeling Hospital. These facilities are some of the largest employers of health care workers in the state of West Virginia.
Take the next step today and find a program that fits your professional goals as well as one that works with your current work and life position. You may even want to explore the Medical Assisting programs in West Virginia. The training time is a bit shorter depending on the program but job growth projections are promising for the next decade.