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Medical Billing and Coding in Colorado

Can you identify what a jejunostomy is? If you are a medical billing and coding expert, chances are good that you can! Medical billing and coding is, for many, not just a job, but a career. These experts have mastered a body of medical knowledge that encompasses anatomy, pharmacology, and the diagnosis process, and they use it to sift through medical records and attach correct codes and relevant modifiers.

There are many questions to consider: Is the procedure preventative or is it related to an acute situation? What category does it fall into? Who attended and gave care? Medical billing and coding specialists are professionals who take regular continuing education classes to stay on top of changes in compliance laws and coding taxonomies. Sometimes a coder even needs to educate the physician they work under about changes in billing and codes!

How can you achieve a career in this exciting field? It begins with a solid education.

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Medical Billing and Coding Training and Certification in Colorado

If medical billing and coding is your calling, you will find many educational programs to choose from. Some focus exclusively on medical billing and coding while others incorporate medical billing and coding within wider studies of health information technologies. A medical billing and coding training program in Colorado will include instruction about medical terminology, disease pathology, coding taxonomies, reimbursement policies, and ethical and legal issues. It will also prepare students to sit for national board examinations. Some Colorado employers prefer certification through AACP, while others give preference to AHIMA. Many will accept certification through either organization.

AHIMA offers CCA (Certified Coding Associate) and CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) certifications as well as certifications for health information technicians. CCS is for those who work in hospital settings, coding both diagnoses and procedures, while CCS-P is for physicians offices. CCA is an entry level certification designed for both doctors offices and hospitals. Although the only mandated prerequisite for taking the CCA is a high school diploma or equivalence, AHIMA recommends six months work or completion of formal education. For CCS, they recommend more extensive experience. Other AHIMA certifications require completion of an accredited program.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job outlook in Colorado

In accordance with national trends, Colorado’s medical billing and coding specialists generally make more in metropolitan regions. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, as very good salaries are reported for the north central metropolitan region. The Labor Bureau classifies billers and coders as health information technicians and reports the following data: The north central nonmetropolitan region employs only 50, but has an average salary of $43,200. Boulder leads the state’s metropolitan regions with a figure of $41,120, closely followed by Fort Collins-Loveland at $41,020. The greater Denver metropolitan area is at $39,440 while the nonmetropolitan areas to the south and east report only $28,80.

Some of the largest employers in Colorado for the health care field including medical billing and coding specialists include Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs, Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs and Denver Health Medical Center. These facilities are not always hiring billers and coders but they are good places to start a job search.

The BLS projected in 2006 that Colorado’s medical records and health information technology fields would see a remarkable 26% growth over the coming decade. Still, it can be hard to land that first position. High levels of credentialing can look good to employers down the road, but due to the complexity of the work, many hospitals prefer to hire coders with experience and medical billing and coding formal training. Doctors offices are generally easier places to find entry level employment. Some workers begin with temp agency work or by working in a related field like accounts resolution. A medical billing and coding teacher in Colorado offers this advice to her students and others: Look for jobs in settings outside of hospitals (Medicare and Medicaid, home health care, the dentist's office). Network, and use your connections.

High levels of credentialing can be protective against future economic recession. The AAPC reported in a 2009 salary survey that credentialed medical billing and coding specialists had actually seen a 4% salary increase over the previous year.

You may also be interested in the medical assisting programs in Colorado. Medical Assisting is an entry level path to the health care field and training can be completed in a shorter period of time compared to a medical billing and coding program, in most cases.

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