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Medical Coding and Billing in Mississippi

It has been estimated that health insurers make mistakes with one in five claims. Humana, posting recently in Jackson, Mississippi, for a certified medical coder in Medicare risk management (MRA analysis), seeks better. One duty is to audit to see if the presence of a particular disease conditions might have been overlooked when billing. This position reflects just one of the many career possibilities in the medical billing and coding profession in Mississippi. Some medical billing and coding specialists work in hospitals, others in physicians’ offices. Duties vary a good deal by both job setting and job title. Some become experts in financial and compliance issues, others in particular branches of specialized medical practice. A common thread, from the perspective of both schools and employers, is that medical billing and coding specialists should be proficient in coding taxonomies, including ICD-9-CM and CPT-4. They should also be very familiar with HIPAA and other healthcare laws and regulations.

Medical billing and coding can be a exciting, and surprisingly challenging, profession. If it sounds like a good career fit, you’ll want to begin with a solid education.

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Medical Billing and Coding Training in Mississippi

Medical billing and coding courses may be at the certificate or associates level, while courses which integrate medical billing and coding within the larger context of health information technologies may be at the level of associates or baccalaureate. Some students ultimately pursue a masters.

Courses will include medical terminology, anatomy/ physiology, ICD and CPT coding, Prior to admission into a program, students may need to show ACT or COMPASS scores. Before beginning a practicum in a healthcare setting, they will likely be asked to pass a health screening; insurance may also be required -- it’s a good idea to talk to program directors about specific requirements.

For those who want to progress in the field, smart planning can save time later. Some higher level programs have an accelerated track for those who have completed programs accredited by CAHIIM. Employers often favor candidates who have credentialing through AHIMA or AAPC. For those earning credentialing through AHIMA, CCA is the entry level certification and is less favored by employers. For those seeking credentialing through AAPC, CPC is a certification that is highly regarded. People normally have the designation CPC-A until they have completed two years work experience. There is a new program, however, that lets very adept coders escape having the “apprentice” designation. In order to do this, they must code 800 medical records at a 90% level. The task is online and does not have to be completed all at once.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job outlook in Mississippi

Medical coding specialists make excellent salaries, but a prospective student should be aware that it often takes time to work one’s way up. In tough economic times, employers may give preference to workers who will require very little in the way of on the job training; this can happen with even entry level positions. Education and certifications can put a person ahead of the game, even if their first position is as a medical records clerk or insurance secretary. Meridian lists an average starting salary of $10 per hour for those with the entry level CCA credential. From this starting point, though, there can be a sharp incline. The AAPC lists an average salary of $40,184 for the state.

People new to the profession should realize the field is constantly changing. Reports by the BLS of shortages have led to an influx of people entering the field, many of whom have completed only short programs. Another game changer will come in October of 2013 when the ICD-9-CM is replaced by the ICD-10-CM. Coding forums, and schools, are abuzz with opinions about new opportunities that will arise. Some suggest that less passionate coders may leave the field. Others note that experienced coders will be at less of an advantage over shiny new ones.

Some of the largest employers in Mississippi are in the health care sector and they include North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Baptist Memorial Hospital with various locations in MS and University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. These employers hire for their in-house billing and coding departments or they utilize medical billing and coding agencies. These are great places to research what employers are looking for in their medical billing and coding specialists as well as places to look for jobs after finishing a training program.

Take the first step in this exciting field of health care and find a medical billing and coding training program or health informatics program to help get you started. You may also be interested in the Medical Assisting programs in Mississippi. Medical Assisting has similar job growth projections and a shorter training period in some cases.

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