Medical Coding and Billing in Louisiana

People enter the medical billing and coding field in Louisiana for many reasons. For some, it is an obvious choice as it matches their skill set. They’re analytical thinkers who did well on school examinations. They have a fascination with health and medicine, but don’t necessarily want the stresses of clinical practice. In fact, the field can be a good choice for people in related professions who want to make the switch into more administrative type duties. Some nurses like to transition into coding, and nursing credentials can indeed be a positive in the eyes of future employers.

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People are also attracted to medical billing and coding for logistic reasons. While most people aren’t offered a work from home opportunity straight out of school, a substantial part of the workforce does eventually work from home at least part of the time. Starting with a formal education in medical billing and coding is the first step to finding a job in this field.

Medical Billing and Coding Training in Louisiana

Although medical billing and coding is not a louisiana state licensed health profession, employers in louisiana set standards high. The field is growing more competitive. Some employers prefer those with a two year or even a four year degree. A number of employers in Louisiana do specify AHIMA credentials as preferred or required of applicants.

There are various levels and types of AHIMA certification. One might at first think that the designations, CCA (Certified Coding Assistant) or CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) are more relevant to a medical coding career than HIT (Health Information Technician or HIM (Health Information Manager). Actually, this is not the case. An accredited health information technology program will include the issues covered in a medical billing and coding training certificate program in Louisiana. In order to get health information certification, a person needs to graduate from an accredited program at the associates level or higher. This is not the case with the CCA and CCS credentials. These have little in the way of formal prerequisites, but do require consider knowledge from education and/or employment. Employers often look very favorably upon HIT and HIM credentialing.

A medical coding or medical billing certificate program, either online or at a traditional institution, will often advertise that it prepares students to pass the CCA (Certified Coding Associate) examination. This is usually considered the entry level test for certified coders. AHIMA recommends the CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) exam for those with three years of experience — though there is nothing to stop a candidate who believes she has what it takes to be successful.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Louisiana

Many medical billing and coding postings in Louisiana are for those who have accumulated a year or more of experience, but sometimes high levels of education will substitute. Our Lady of Lourdes, for instance, recently posted for a medical coder who had either 3 years coding experience in an acute care facility or a degree from an accredited program. PracticeMax noted they would consider new graduates who had front desk experience.

It is considered easier nationwide to enter the field in settings other than hospitals or large medical centers. Some people take jobs that bring them into a setting they desire, hoping to work up to positions of greater responsibility. Even in difficult economic times, coding credentials can open doors that wouldn’t open otherwise. An example of this is found in a recent posting for medical office specialist at North Oaks Health System. The hiring committee asks either a year’s experience at the front desk of a medical clinic or education or certification in billing and coding. Knowledge of medical terminology (a standard part of coding courses) is also desired.

The largest employers in Louisiana’s health care sector, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, CHRISTUS Schumpert Saint Mary Place with multiple locations including Shreveport and Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, utilize medical billing and coding services extensively either through a contracted billing and coding company or an in house division. Medical billing and coding jobs with one of these companies can lead to lang careers with nice job security. They are also a good place to research job qualifications in this field.

Ultimately, medical billing and coding experts enjoy comfortable salaries. There is some regional difference in wages, according to the BLS. The following figures reflect hourly wages for billing and coding professionals and other health information technicians, and were current as of 2009:

Louisiana $13.73

Lafayette $15.07

Baton Rouge $13.35

New Orleans $15.40

Alexandria $15.66

Shreveport $11.57

The first step to this career is to find a medical billing and coding training program to prepare you for entry level positions and certification exams.

You may also want to check out the Medical Assisting programs in Louisiana. Medical assisting is another entry way to the rapidly expanding allied health field.

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