Medical Billing and Coding in Delaware

91% of Delaware’s residents have at least some health coverage. That puts the state #3 in the nation. It’s a statistic to be proud of. And who is it who sees that insurance carriers are correctly billed, and gives Delaware’s patients a little more peace of mind? It’s Delaware’s medical billing and coding specialists!

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Medical billing and coding is a much more complex and skilled profession than it might at first appear. Medical billing and coding specialists master a huge amount of material, including, but by no means limited to, the vast coding systems of the ICD-9-CM (or International Classification of Diseases) and the CPT-4. Medical coders must also be familiar with compliance policies and privacy laws. In order to read descriptions of medical procedures and correctly assign codes, they must have a working knowledge of anatomy, disease pathology, and pharmacology. Knowledge of software programs used for coding is also a must. Some medical billing and coding specialists earn advanced certifications in particular branches of medical knowledge so that they can read and understand medical documentation for reconstructive surgery, for example, or chiropractic work.

If you have at least a high school education, you can begin training for a degree in medical billing and coding.

Medical Billing and Coding Training in Delaware

Delaware does not license medical billing and coding specialists, but does require medical coders who work in certain settings to provide information to verify their trustworthiness. In the interest of public safety, all employees of healthcare facilities must provide service letters from past employers and submit to background checks which include child and adult abuse registry checks.

Other job requirements are set by the employer. Employers ask for a range of skills, including thorough knowledge of coding taxonomies. General education is valued; employers may ask for completion of a medical billing and coding training program at the associate’s level. Hospitals will generally also ask for certification. The two main certifying agencies are AACP and AHIMA.

Depending on the position, Delaware employers may specify credentialing specifically through AHIMA. AHIMA offers several certifications. The more comprehensive health information technology certifications, RHIT and RHIA, require a degree from an accredited institution. One can take the CCA (Certified Coding Associate) or CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) exams with only a high school diploma, but AHIMA does strongly recommend experience and education first! Only about 50% of test takers pass the CCS on their first try. With the CCA, the figure approaches 65%.

Delaware Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook

A career in medical billing and coding offers good advancement potential. A credential, particular one at the certificate level, will not be an immediate ticket to a lucrative career, but those who prove themselves in the field can expect very good salaries down the road. The AAPC, drawing from a 2009 salary survey of over 10,000 coding experts, reports that highly qualified coders have proved recession-proof, with an average salary increase of 4% over 2008, and that those with more advanced designations were doing better than those with lower ones.

What does a medical billing and coding specialist make in Delaware? The AAPC reports an average salary of $48,000, noting that nationwide salary varied a good deal based on years on the job as well as credentialing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics combines statistics for billing and coding experts with those for other medical records and health information technicians and reports a somewhat lower figure. They note that health and information technicians in the Wilmington area enjoy higher salaries ($34,610 a year) than those in the nonmetropolitan areas ($30,450).

Large employers for the health care sector in Delaware include Christiana Hospital in Newark, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford and Kent General Hospital in Smyrna. These facilities are good places to research available job opportunities and though they are desirable places to work they can serve also as great resources to learn about qualifications for medical billing and coding careers.

There are many good things about a medical billing and coding career. Most medical coders work about 31 – 40 hours a week and enjoy benefits as well as salary. The AAPC indicates that most of their members have health insurance themselves!

The medical assisting programs in Delaware are also exciting and popular options for entry to the health care field and worth checking out.

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