Medical Coding and Billing in North Dakota
CHIPS, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is especially important for children in the rural parts of North Dakota where families are less likely to have employer provided insurance. The health information technologies including medical coding and billing are also important, according to the Upper Midwest Rural Health Research Center! Medical billing and coding specialists in North Dakota are a part of the health technology team. They have a role in research and care as well as reimbursement, and they also help keep North Dakota healthy.
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What is the role of a medical billing and coding specialist? The best known task is to assign alphanumeric codes to medical conditions and procedures. This is not always a simple matter. A single patient encounter may have several, or even dozens of relevant codes. To attach the right codes and modifiers, a medical coding specialist may need to abstract information from the medical provider’s documentation. This requires a knowledge of medical terminology and of disease pathology.
How does someone gain this knowledge? They complete a medical billing and coding training or a health informatics degree program.
Medical Billing and Coding Training in North Dakota
North Dakota does not license medical billing or medical coding specialists. Some positions in the medical billing and coding profession require certification, however. Employers in North Dakota may specify a particular credential, for instance, AHIMA’s Certified Coding Specialist, or they may accept one of several certifications.
Some positions favor applicants who have a two year or even four year degree. Other postings specify only a few courses. In addition to medical coding fundamentals, knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology is expected. These biomedical courses are a standard part of coding courses, as well as those of other allied health fields. Medical billing and coding training programs may also include typing proficiency as a requirement for admission and/or advancement.
Higher education can be advantageous for workers who want to advance in the field. Those who do plan on attaining degrees may want to consider health technology programs accredited by CAHIIM as well. These programs qualify workers to either code or work in other areas of the industry. People who already have some experience in the field, or who aren’t ready to commit to several years of education may want to consider other programs that can prepare them for credentialing through AHIMA or AAPC.
Neither the CCA nor CCS credentialing exams have college level education as a formal prerequisite, but the CCS is regarded as more difficult. College websites often proclaim that their programs prepare students for the CCA. Some prepare them for the CCS, as well. The CCS contains more medical coding, so practice for this exam must include a lot of work with coding taxonomies, virtually if not in a real world setting. This is, however, looked upon more favorably by many employers nationwide.
The way to prepare for these certification exams is by completing a medical coding or medical billing training program or , as was mentioned above, a health informatics degree program. There are colleges and universities based in North Dakota that offer these programs as well as schools that offer them in an online format.
Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in North Dakota
The Bureau of Labor classifies medical billing and coding as health information technology careers and lists an average salary for North Dakota of $30,380 a year or $14.61 an hour. North Dakota does not appear to follow the nationwide trend of higher wages in major metropolitan areas. Both the West Central and East Central nonmetropolitan regions report higher wages than Bismarck. The lowest salaries are reported for the far western part of the state.
Many employers do prefer candidates with experience, but high levels of education will sometimes suffice, especially if a person has all the desired qualifications. A recent post for a code based reimbursement analyst at Trinity, for example, asks for both certification and an associates degree, and further notes that preference is given to baccalaureate level candidates.
Educational programs, online as well as traditional, often place students in the field to do internships. Longer programs include more field experiences, giving students more opportunities to not only learn skills but to make connections and informally interview. A Dakota State University faculty member notes that HIT students are placed in several internships of increasing duration.
A good way to learn more about qualifications for medical billing and coding jobs is to look at job listings posted by the larger employers in North Dakota including Medcenter One Jamestown, Jamestown Hospital and St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck.
Take the first step toward entering this career by finding a school below that fits your schedule and career goals. You might also want to check out the Medical Assisting programs in North Dakota, which often offer a shorter training to work requirement.