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Medical Coding and Billing in Wisconsin

Medical billing and coding is a rewarding career for the right person: one who is detail-oriented and who truly enjoys the medical field on at least an academic level. A fair amount of medical knowledge is necessary, but it involves reading documentation and consulting with people, as opposed to actually working with patients.

There are a variety of careers one can pursue with training in medical billing and coding. Entry level positions may include being an insurance biller, a medical receptionist, or a patient services representative. These positions may include some medical coding, mixed with administrative and customer service duties. Intermediate level positions include that of medical coding specialist and auditor. At the advanced end, one finds consultants, educators, and compliance managers.

A candidate with high levels of education and/or experience in loosely related fields will be more likely to be able to skip the entry level positions or at least move through them more quickly.

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Medical Billing and Coding Training in Wisconsin

Medical billing and coding programs offered in Wisconsin can be found online as well as at traditional institutions. Medical foundation classes are central to a course of study. The student is introduced to procedures for processing claims forms as well as to the CPT-4 and ICD-9 coding taxonomies. The program typically includes practice coding; this can entail reading both manual and electronic documentation. Sometimes students are sent out into the field for externships. At the end of the program, they are generally ready to sit for board exams through AAPC or AHIMA.

Some courses in medical billing and coding are taught at the certificate level, but these give only entry level skills which do not prove as useful in times when jobs are tight. Employers in Wisconsin often favor candidates who have at least an associate degree. Options include A.S. (Associate of Science), A.A.S (Associate of Applied science), or A.A.B.A (Associate of Arts in Business Administration) degrees.

There are a few programs that focus exclusively, or almost exclusively, on medical billing and coding that are taught at the associate level. Many associate or bachelor level programs, though, also include classes in electronic medical records and other issues related to health information technology. An associate level program will be about 70 semester hours or 96 quarter hours long. A program on the quarter hour system will include a wider variety of classes, but may include very similar curriculum.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin state average for those in medical billing and coding and related fields is $16.97 an hour or $35,300 a year. This is above the U.S. average. Madison leads the state with an hourly wage of $20.96. Milwaukee is also higher than most of the state with an average of $18.25. The lowest average wages reported for Wisconsin are in Appleton, Fond du Lac, and Oshkosh-Neenah. These cities all report figures between $14 and $15 an hour and fall somewhat below the more rural parts of the state. Nationwide, the trend is for medical facilities to pay more in urban areas. Smaller cities or even nonmetropolitan areas, though, may have averages that are quite high if they have major medical centers that employ a lot of specialists and draw patients from elsewhere. Such positions are usually quite competitive and take some time to attain. Experienced medical coders on the Indeed.com forums have suggested internships as a way of putting one’s name out there and gaining trust within the field.

Nationwide, there are a number of factors that influence earnings. The number of years in the profession is of course a significant factor in determining salary. Certification helps, as does education. Experienced medical billing and coding specialists can compete for more lucrative positions. Nationwide, an insurance representative averages $36,920, while a compliance manager draws in $63,251. Opportunities for advancement are widely available for those who excel.

To learn more about qualifications employers have or to research job opportunities, you may want to start by looking at some of the largest employers in Wisconsin's health care sector. Aurora Saint Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, Saint Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls, University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison and Saint Mary's Hospital in Madison are a few of these large employers.

Now is the time to take the first step toward a new career or jumpstart a career in health care. Take the first step by requesting information from a medical billing and coding school in Wisconsin today. Medical assistant programs in Wisconsin may also be of interest for those looking for an even shorter training period that prepares them for entry to the allied health field.

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