Medical Billing and Coding in South Dakota

Medical billing and coding is a surprisingly skilled profession. Practitioners must become very familiar with physiology and with disease processes in order to abstract medical documentation and accurately assign codes. They learn taxonomies as well as regulations that affect Medicare and Medicaid. Also vital is knowledge of insurance liabilities and privacy issues.

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If you read the forums on the AACP certification site, you’ll see that a lot of coders are passionate about what they do. They like helping the doctor’s office run smoothly; they like getting claims approved and paid. Some are involved with following through on (or pushing through) claims that have at some point been denied. They take pride in making it happen. These coders are completing regular continuing education units, learning new codes and regulations, and educating the medical staff.

Why go into medical billing and coding? Don’t enter the field because you think it’s a quick path to a high income. Do go in because there’s long term growth potential and opportunities for advancement — and because the job description matches your unique skill set. You’ll go further with a high level of education and with national certification. Yes, there are some people in medical billing and coding who have just a certificate or even a high school diploma, but it’s not uncommon these days to have a bachelor’s or even a master’s. The AACP reported in a 2009 survey of more than 10,000 workers that 73.5% had been to college, and 17.5% held a bachelor’s degree.

Medical Billing and Coding Training and Certification in South Dakota

The first step is choosing an medical billing and coding training program in South Dakota. Programs in medical billing and coding are usually offered at the certificate or associate’s level, while programs which integrate medical billing and coding with other health information technologies are offered at associate’s, bachelor’s, and even master’s levels. If a person wants to specialize in just coding, there are several possible routes. One is to begin with a shorter program that includes preparation for entry level certification through either AHIMA or AAPC.

The other is to pursue a health information degree from the onset and pursue more specialized certifications later. An example of a specialty certification is CPEDC, or Certified Pediatrics Coder. This program was developed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatricians. Many children are on nationally subsidized health plans, so youth-focused Medicare and Medicaid issues are covered, as is coding that is common to pediatric practice. Key are ancillary procedures like vaccines and vision testing and surgical procedures like care of fractures.
Typical courses will include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, disease progression, computer systems, coding taxonomies, and methodologies of reimbursement. Programs at the associate’s level or higher will include general studies courses that can make candidates more desirable to future employers.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job outlook in South Dakota

From an economic standpoint, the benefits of a career in coding have more to do with long term advancement opportunities than with an accelerated career path. A 2009 salary survey by AAPC notes that certified coders are not only holding onto their jobs but seeing a slight wage increase. The average reported salary for South Dakota is $37,580.

Higher pay and more job opportunities for medical billing and coding specialists as well as health informatics professionals are often found in the larger cities like Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown and Aberdeen. A great place to start a job search or look for career advancement opportunities is at the largest employers of health care professionals in South Dakota, like Sanford USD Medical Centers in Sioux Falls and Fargo, Rapid City Regional Hospital, Avera Saint Lukes Hospital in Aberdeen and Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls.

A person is more likely to achieve their dream career if they plan well at every step along the way. Some medical billing and coding training programs offer short externships which send students out into the field to code. This can be an opportunity to make connections as well as gain experience. Programs at higher levels may include several short internships in coding and other related areas. A representative of the program at Dakota State University notes that their students go out into the field for progressively longer externships: first one week, then two, then three. This provides them with great work experience as well as an opportunity to do some networking for jobs once they finish their training or degree.

Check out the Medical Assisting programs in South Dakota. These programs can be of a bit shorter duration and the career growth is projected to be positive over the next decade.

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