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Medical Coding and Billing in Arkansas

For the 24% of Arkansas citizens on Medicaid, as well as the more than 60% who have insurance in some form, it can be a relief to get those bills that show that expenses and payments match up -- in other words, that the sometimes frightening cost of hospital care is covered. It's the job of medical billers and coders to make sure this happens.

Medical billing and coding specialists read descriptions of procedures and diagnoses and enter codes to ensure proper billing, in some cases, to aid in management of health conditions or serve as data in ground-breaking research. Among the resource materials they use are the ICD-10-CM, an international set of diagnostic codes and the CPT-4 or Current Procedural Terminology.

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Medical Billing and Coding Training in Arkansas

For those interested in becoming medical billing and coding specialists, there are a number of schooling options available. Since the medical billing and coding field does not require clinical practice, education programs may be found online as well as at traditional institutions. People enter the field at different levels, with anywhere from a certificate to a master’s degree. A person’s level of education will of course have a role in determining in part what jobs they can compete for. So will their level of certification. Many Arkansas employers ask for credentialing through either AHIMA or AAPC. A student in the health information fields will want to ask prospective schools which exams he will be prepared to sit for.

AHIMA accesses candidate’s readiness for careers in the health information technologies fields. The designations RHIT and RHIA mean a person has had a comprehensive education that includes electronic records management and disease registries as well as coding.

AAPC offers a number of certifications in medical coding, including more than 20 medical specialty areas that an experienced coder might pursue. Arkansas has an older population than many states, and comparatively high rates of high blood pressure and other indicators of heart disease. Some medical coders might become CCCs (Certified Cardiac Coders) or CIRCCs (Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coders). The AAPC notes that there have been so many new developments in disease management in recent years and that such trends as combined peripheral and cardiac procedures have made coding very complex. It’s not an area that a person will find themselves in straight out of college, but some of the best will find themselves there eventually.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job outlook in Arkansas

In 2006, the Labor Bureau predicted that medical billing and coding and other health information technologies would grow by 22% in Arkansas over the next decade. While rehabilitation centers and doctors in private practice don't pay as much as hospitals or insurance carriers, they can be a better place to begin one's career. The salary difference between working at a doctor’s office and a hospital isn't just a matter of institutional resources. At a doctor’s office, a medical biller or coder is involved primarily with billing, though she will also need the ability to assign codes to medical procedures. Hospitals have more complex coding needs, though many financial matters will be handled by the business office.

Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison, Saint Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock, Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock and White County Medical Center North in Searcy are a few of the largest employers in Arkansas health care. They are excellent places to start a medical billing and coding job search. As was mentioned before, hospitals often offer higher wages than physician offices, so these facilities may hold great opportunities for the right medical billing and coding specialist.

Credentialing as a medical coder may not be a quick answer to helping a person out of an economic downturn. It can, however, protect against future ones! AAPC's 2009 salary survey revealed, that despite hard economic times, their certified coders had seen a 4% increase in salary over the previous year.

Some courses of study offer more opportunities for advancement than others. The website of National Park Community College at Hot Springs notes that an Associates of Applied Science is vocationally oriented and may not transfer to other programs. A representative of the institution indicates that it will sometimes transfer. This representative is happy to discuss future goals, as is the case with representatives of many institutions. It is a good idea to request information and/or talk with representatives of multiple colleges about how particular programs can help you meet your career goals.

Medical assistant programs in Arkansas have also been a popular choice for thouse looking to enter the allied health professions in the state. Job growth in this sector is booming.

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