Medical Billing and Coding in Idaho
Were you good at mastering academic content and cramming for tests in school? Do you enjoy data and figures — not only processing them, but also analyzing and noticing trends? If so, you might enjoy a career in medical billing and coding. The profession requires a surprising amount of skill and training, especially if one wants to advance. Physicians’ offices often combine billing and coding, but hospital work can involve a high level of specialization. Medical coding experts become adept at the ICD-9-CM and CPT-4 coding taxonomies as well as Medicare and Medicaid policies.
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How does a medical billing and coding specialist spend a day on the job? According to a recent survey by the AAPC certifying agency, most coders spend 80% or more of their time coding or engaging in other tasks considered to be within the general scope of practice — e.g. auditing, handling compliance issues, and educating others on coding issues. Other tasks may be administrative or clinical.
Many people are attracted to the medical billing and coding profession in part because of flexible schedules and the potential to earn a salary at home while caring for children. Indeed, the AAPC has reported that more than 1/3 of coders work from home at least part of the week. Medical coders on the AAPC forums report, though, that they needed to get substantial experience within the field before they were given this opportunity.
Medical Billing and Coding Training in Idaho
Those interested in careers as medical billing and coding specialists should enroll in programs in either medical billing and coding or health information technology. Coursework will typically include physiology, disease pathology, medical and pharmacological terminology, coding systems, and applicable laws; classes will also prepare candidates for board exams through AHIMA and/or AAPC. Courses in health information technology will include further instruction in electronic health records and may prepare students for multiple certifications. Programs at the associate level or higher will include general studies classes in such areas as composition and algebra.
There is good advancement potential in coding, and there are two main tracks for those who want to make it a long term career. One can enter the field with a certificate or associate degree in medical billing and coding. One can also enter with an associate’s or bachelor’s in HIT. Either way, there may be opportunities to pursue advanced certification or additional training later. It is a good idea to ask schools what credits may transfer to higher degree programs.
Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job outlook in Idaho
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected in 2006 that Idaho’s medical records and health information technology fields would see an extraordinary 29% growth over the next ten years. Salaries are very good, particularly after a person has been on the job a number of years. The AAPC lists an average salary of $42,787 for Idaho’s coding experts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the highest salaries for coders and other health technicians in a nonmetropolitan region of the state: East Idaho.
Opportunities for advancement are many. Often, the hardest part is landing that first job. What positions can a person who is new to the profession vie for? An entry level job in Idaho might be as a customer service representative for a health care provider. Such positions ask for knowledge of insurance claims, but not necessarily experience or certifications. It is easier to break into the field as a biller than a coder. Some students, though, find it advantageous to have health technology degrees that prepare them for a variety of medical information responsibilities including medical coding. Externships, or short internships, can be a way to transition from school to work. Surprisingly, these opportunities are available for online students as well as traditional ones. Colorado Technical Institute reports that they place online students in internships in the student’s geographical region.
Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls and St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center are a few of the largest employers in Idaho’s health care sector. They offer many employee benefits and are great places to research job opportunities for medical billing and coding specialists.
The Medical Assisting programs in Idaho can also help prpeare you for a promising career in the allied health care field.