Medical Coding and Billing in Rhode Island
Interested in pursuing a career in medical billing or coding? Medical coding is a demanding and highly skilled profession. Medical coders must learn several coding systems, including those of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Medical Association (AMA). They must also stay on top of the reimbursement policies of Medicare, CHIP, and various HMOs as well as the policies of state agencies. Some organizations have produced documents that are literally thousands of pages long; what’s required is not memorization or the simple ability to look up information, but rather deep level comprehension. Diagnostic or procedural coding may also require reading lengthy medical records and abstracting information.
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Another frequent job duty is educating other professionals in the medical field about proper documentation. In some instances, medical coding specialists don’t do the coding themselves, but rather review the work of doctors. In a 2008 AAPC survey, professionals discussed, among other things, doctors’ roles and knowledge. One noted that, though the doctors understood coding, they were less likely to be on top of changes in codes or regulations (Their continuing education units after all are of course more likely to be in medicine.) A majority of respondents did note that the physicians they worked with expected or welcomed corrections to their coding.
How does one prepare themselves for such a complex career? They complete a formal education program in medical billing and or medical coding, health informatics or a health information technology degree program.
Medical Billing and Coding Training in Rhode Island
Licensure is not required in Rhode Island. It can, however, be a good option to select a program that leads to national board certification. There are several options for degree programs to prepare you for the exams and entry-level positions. These include associates in medical billing and coding programs, health care reimbursement, health information technology, or healthcare administration. While you won’t find all these options available within the state, at least not in a face to face format, many programs are available online.
Programs in medical billing and coding and health information technology actually prepare a person for some of the same certifications. A person who goes through an accredited HIT program is eligible to sit for board examinations in both health information technology and medical coding. On a national level, AHIMA and AACP are the best known agencies for medical billing and coding certification. CCA is considered entry level, CCS, RHIT, and RHIA are more desirable.
Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Rhode Island
Externships can help a person make field connections. A representative of Herzing University Online notes that even distance programs place candidates into the field for job experience. Counselors are happy to talk over career goals as well as review previous course credits. This can make for a shorter time in school as well as a smoother school to work transition.
What can a medical billing or coding professional hope to earn after they have completed their education and moved past entry level positions? The Bureau of Labor classifies billing and coding as health information technologies and reports an average of $17.67 an hour for Rhode Island. Actual earnings depend on job title, education and certification level, as well as years of experience. Workers with expertise in specialty areas earn more.
Entry level positions may pay by the hour, but experienced workers generally have the option of taking a job with an annual salary and a benefits package. The AAPC reports the following data, based on a 10,000 person survey: 91% of respondents had health insurance, 78% had dental insurance, 89% got paid holidays, and 82% received paid sick time.
A separate AAPC survey of more than 12,000 reports that a significant percentage of medical billing and coding specialists are telecommuters. For a lot of people, the opportunity to work from home is an even bigger benefit than the monetary ones. It generally takes a few years of experience in the field, however, before such opportunities arise. Codebusters, for example, reports that they place experienced coders in remote medical coding positions. One should consider the advantages of working from home when looking for a lifetime career, but not expect remote medical coding to be a short term economic fix. Excel in the profession, and there will be many opportunities for advancement — or career flexibility — down the road.
Where do you gain the experience or learn more about qualifications for some of the more desirable medical billing and coding jobs? Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Kent Hospital in Warwick, Our Lady of Fatima Hospital with locations in North providence and Cranston and The Miriam Hospital in Providence are some of the largest employers in Rhode island’s health care sector.
Medical assistant programs in Rhode Island are another populr way to enter the allied health field in the state in a shorter period of time. This may be a good option to consider depending on your current situation.