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Medical Coding and Billing in Oregon

Can you identify fluoroscopy? If you're a medical billing and coding specialist in Oregon, chances are good that you can. Medical billing and coding specialists start out on the same track as many other health professionals, taking courses in human biomedics and medical terminology. Medical coding specialists also need to understand the diagnosis process and be familiar with medical procedures. Why? They need to abstract information from medical charts. Therefore, people with other health care experience -- such as LPNs, for instance -- are sometimes at an advantage competing for jobs. Backgrounds in administrative work and medical billing are looked upon favorably as well. Medical billing specialists are also experts in payer policies, including those of governmental programs.

The medical billing and coding profession starts with a formal training program in either medical billing and coding or health informatics. Medical billing and coding training programs are offered by online schools as well as at college and university campuses in the state of Oregon.

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Medical Billing and Coding Training in Oregon

Programs in medical billing and coding are offered at a range of levels, both degree and nondegree. They can result in different certifications. Program selection depends on experience as well as career goals.

Typical courses include physiology and pathophysiology, medical terminology, coding taxonomies, and policies of both HMOs and governmental agencies. Within this framework, curriculum can be organized in different ways. Other medical billing and coding schools in Oregon may group medical coding courses by level: beginning, intermediate, advanced.

While many programs are termed medical billing and coding, some programs have an emphasis. Central Oregon Community College, for example, has a medical billing certificate program and a slightly longer medical coding one. Courses at lower levels can often be transferred to longer programs later. A faculty member at Shoreline Community College-Online notes that many coding students do go on to pursue degrees in health information technology. She recommends that prospective students speak to an adviser about career goals.

Longer programs often include courses in other health information technologies. There are also health information technology degree programs that are designed to prepare graduates for a wider range of certifications and job responsibilities.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Oregon

In 2009, it was projected that the next decade would see 64 annual openings by growth, 60 by replacement. In other words, this is a growing field in Oregon. The highest growth, by percentage, was expected in Region 10 which includes Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties. The most total opening, meanwhile, were expected to occur in Region 2, which includes Portland and the rest of Mulnomah and Washington counties.

What does a medical coding and billing specialist earn in Oregon? The Labor Bureau classifies the field with other medical records and health information technologies and reports an annual wage of $16.81.The income range (from 10th percentile to 90th percentile) is about $10.85 - $24.35. Even within a metropolitan area, workers at the 90th percentile make a little more than twice those at the 10th. What causes the discrepancy? A 2009 salary survey by AAPC can shed some light on this. Work setting, specialty, certification, and educational level are all important factors. Of course there is some interplay between factors as medical coders in Oregon with high levels of achievement are more likely to be employed in certain capacities.

There are also geographic differences within the state of Oregon. The following data is from the BLS:

Portland $18.40
Eugene-Springfield $16.86
Medford $15.28
Salem $14.66

The Oregon Labor Market Information System is almost “one stop shopping” for the Oregon job seeker. Many nationally advertised positions list preferred years of experience, but sometimes well-qualified candidates are hired who have less. The forums at Indeed.com give some clues as to what sets candidates apart. Some of the largest employers in Oregon include Providence Saint Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland, Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene and Salem Hospital. These are also great resources to learn more about what employers are looking for in the medical billing and coding specialists they hire.

The Medical Assistant programs in Oregon are also popular allied health career entry routes. The job growth and salary potential is similar to that of Billing and Coding.

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