Medical Coding and Billing in Missouri

The face of the medical billing and coding profession is changing. No longer is it a semi-skilled job that people learn as they go. Today’s medical billing and coding specialists enter the field after careful planning. They often have a two or even four year degree.

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Why is this so? A scan of recent Missouri job postings offers some clues. Proficiencies include retrieving information from multiple sources, maintaining chart audits, and assigning abstracting data. Medical coding specialists assign codes and modifiers based on descriptions of symptoms and procedures. They may need to follow through with various medical professionals when charts don’t have all the information that is necessary for reimbursement or research.

In 2013, the field will grow even more complex, as the ICD-9-CM coding system is replaced by the ICD-10-CM which has a code set of more than 100,000 items. The change can, however, be an opportunity, as nearly everyone will be, in some sense, a beginner. There will be new technology to make the task less tedious and slow, but it will still require a human touch.

To gain the necessary education to prepare for this career, the majority will enroll in a medical billing and coding training program or a health informatics degree program.

Medical Billing and Coding Training in Missouri

Medical billing and coding schools in Missouri focus on giving students the skills they need to be successful, and on preparing them to pass national board examinations. Employers in Missouri often want workers who hold a CPC certification through AAPC or a CCS certification (or higher) through AHIMA. Some specify a particular credential, often CPC.

Education programs may have as a goal helping a person pass the CCA or CCS examination. What does this mean, and what distinguishes the two credentials? Both are offered through AHIMA, and neither has, as a prerequisite, formal education beyond high school level. The exam can be difficult to pass, however, without considerable field experience and/or education. This is particularly true of the CCS, which has only about a 50% pass rate among first time test takers. It includes more challenging real world coding. Not surprisingly, it can be more of a signal to future employers that one has the skills to be successful. Those planning on taking AHIMA exams should know that there are different versions of the CCS. The CCS-P is geared toward medical coding in physicians’ offices, which can be surprisingly different than hospital coding.

Medical billers and coders who have been in the field may seek specialty certifications to demonstrate their expertise coding specialized medical procedures. An example of a specialty credential would be CPEDC, which denotes a Certified Pediatrics Coder. This credential was developed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatricians. Many children are on subsidized healthcare plans in Missouri and other states so child-focused Medicaid and Medicare issues are a focus. So are codes that are common to pediatrics, for instance, fraction care and pediatric ancillary procedures (vaccines and vision testing).

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Missouri

Many employers do prefer candidates with previous experience, but often what they are really looking for is a high level of proficiency. Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the largest hospital in Missouri, posted a position in late 2010 that did not specify minimum years of experience. Other qualifications were set high, though. The requirements included 95% accuracy for coding, and 90% for abstracting information from medical charts. Other skills included everything from personal characteristics to mastery of specified computer applications. It should be noted that not all medical centers have such steep requirements. Another medical center, posting at the same time, listed the lesser requirement of 80% The overall message, though, is that excellence can help a person climb through the ranks much more quickly.

To learn more about employer preferences and find internship opportunities it is worthwhile to look into some of the largest employers in Missouri, which include St. Johns Mercy Medical Center in Saint Louis, St. Anthony’s Medical Center in Saint Louis, Barnes Jewish Hospital in Saint Louis and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in Saint Louis.

Specialized job placement agencies help qualified individuals secure employment. Office Team, which places workers in administrative health positions, has noted that Missouri is one of a dozen markets they serve. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists an average wage of $15.20 for medical coders and other health technicians in the state.

You may also be interested in the Medical Assisting programs in Missouri. Medical assisting is still a great allied health care career entry point and worth checking out.

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