Medical Coding and Billing in Maryland

The American Association of Professional Coders has a button on their site that proclaims Countdown to ICD-10-CM. The ICD-9-CM will soon be replaced by the ICD-10-CM, the medical coding system that is already in use by much of the world. The changes have been mandated to take place by October 1, 2013. The code set will increase from 17,000 to a staggering 141,000. Some companies intend to purchase software to do preliminary coding based on a scan of key words. Other Maryland companies, like Coderyte, are designing innovative systems themselves. Computers are just an adjunct to the human brain, however. Medical coding specialists will still be necessary to verify accuracy and make adjustments, as well as to perform a variety of other functions from data analysis to education.

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2013 may well prove to be a good time for new medical billing and coding professionals to enter the field! There will be so many changes that few people will be able to call themselves experts. What should prospective medical billing and coding students know about this exciting field? Medical coding is a demanding profession. Medical coders attach strings of characters to medical procedures based on the ICD-CM, the CPT, and sometimes the DSM-IV coding systems. They stay on top of changes in Medicare, Medicaid, and other policies, and may even educate the physicians they work with on proper documentation procedures. Their work is important for reimbursement and also for research.

The most direct way to get started in this career is to find a formal education program. There are many medical billing and coding programs offered in Maryland via colleges and universities or in an online format. Health information technology programs are another route worthy of exploring since graduates have access to additional certifications.

Medical Billing and Coding Training in Maryland

Courses in medical billing and coding are offered at both the certificate and degree levels. They are also part of the standard curriculum in degree programs in health information technology (HIT) or health information management (HIM). Both tracks will prepare students to sit for board examinations. HIM credentials are actually looked upon very favorably by employers. AAPC and AHIMA certification exams ask students to do simulated medical coding based on simulated patient records. Some sections are open book, but the book is big indeed!

Prospective medical billing and coding students should also be aware that there may be placement tests and additional prerequisite courses if they don’t score high enough in foundation subjects like biology. These introductory courses can increase the total time of a program. It can be a good idea, then, to take certain prerequisites as soon as you begin to consider a career in the health professions. Biomedical courses are a standard part of the curriculum for all allied health fields.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Maryland

Students should make a program selection based on career background as well career goals. Specialty certifications are available from AAPC and BMSC in a variety of areas, including cardiology and neurology. BMSC also offers credentialing in home health coding. Mental health is not currently a specialty certification area, but Baltimore City Community College does note that they include DSM-IV coding as part of their advanced coding class.

The first position is often the most difficult to obtain, but ultimately, excellence can take a person far. According to a survey by Payscale, it’s not uncommon, nationwide, for those in the billing and coding fields to earn part of their income through performance-based bonuses. A recent ad for a patient account services specialist in Maryland includes a note that company employees are paid through a combination of salary and bonuses, and that the salary can range from $25,000 to $35,000. This particular medical billing and coding job posting does not list minimum years of experience, but rather asks for demonstrated skill.

Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore, Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore and Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly are some of the largest employers in Maryland and being that they are in the health care sector and patient service, they employ the services of medical billing and coding specialists. These are employers who you may want to explore once you complete a program or if you just want to research qualifications for medical billing and coding specialists in Maryland.

According to 2009 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland is the 5th highest paying state in the nation with regard to billing, coding, and other health information technologies. The average salary is listed as $18.91 an hour or $39,330 a year. The range is quite large, with workers at the 10th percentile making $11.47 and those at the 90th taking in $29.26.

Take that first step toward a career in medical billing and coding by finding a program that fits your personal and professional goals.

Medical Assistant programs in Maryland have also been a popular career training option for those interested in the rapidly expanding health care field.

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