How to Become a Medical Billing & Coding Specialist in California

An Introduction to Medical Billing and Coding

Computer and communication technology plays an integral role in every organization within every industry. Hospitals, clinics, and other medical establishments have realized the significance that computer systems and software can play in such a data-sensitive area. Very specific education and training is required, which is offered by various medical billing and coding schools.

Medical billing is essentially a branch of billing. However, a medical billing specialist must have a deep understanding and knowledge of medical terms.  You must also keep abreast of all changes to HIPAA and Medicare regulations as well as insurance compliance and medical laws. Generating accurate and timely invoices is essential to the survival of any medical institution; hence a lot of importance is placed on the capabilities of a medical billing specialist.

With so much information, a medical coder needs to be methodical and painstakingly accurate but must also possess excellent knowledge of clinical terminology and a strong set of computer skills.

The Best Course of Education or Vocation

Gaining the appropriate certification is absolutely essential to both a coding and billing career. A large part of either role concerns the use of medical terminology and an understanding of anatomy and diseases. This information can only be gained through educational courses. Medical billing and coding schools in California typically offer courses ranging from several months to several years. The precise course you require will depend on the level of computing, billing, and medical knowledge you already possess.

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Becoming a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) will also go a long way to improve your job prospects. This is the equivalent of a two-year degree culminating in an examination set by AHIMA. Having this accreditation means you can expect considerably more in terms of a starting salary. A number of California medical billing and coding schools offer this course and it is a highly desirable qualification.

Employment and Earnings Statistics

Currently, the outlook is exceptionally bright for those looking for a career in either medical billing or medical coding. Because of the very specific nature of experience that is required there are comparatively few candidates for each available job. This coupled with the increased dependence and reliance on technology makes the medical coding and billing arena an enviable one to be part of.

The increase has largely been due to new legislation that governs the use of data as well as the ease of obtaining this data and keeping accurate records. While some of this legislation has yet to become mandatory to all medical organizations, major and minor institutions alike are bracing themselves for when they inevitably do. As a result, the number of medical professionals needed in this area is expected to continue to increase at a far greater rate than other industries.

The median salary for Medical Billing Specialists in five metropolitan areas are:

Fresno $41,061
Los Angeles $46,130
Sacramento $44,295
San Diego $44,060
San Francisco $51,347

Potential Medical Billing and Coding Careers

A career in medical billing and coding offers considerable room for advancement. The importance of technology to the medical world is becoming more and more evident. Further government legislation is likely to follow in the coming years requiring medical establishments and organizations to keep accountable records. Currently, it is only necessary to do so when an organization has been audited. However, most organizations are already gearing up for the changes.

Medical Coding and Billing Program Details

It is virtually impossible to begin a coding or billing career in the medical industry without the proper education. The roles themselves are very closely geared towards the medical profession meaning that both billing and coding specialists need an understanding of anatomy and general medical theories. However, it is also essential to learn the many codes attributed to the different diseases, treatments, and diagnoses. With more than 10,000 of these codes, this can be a time-consuming affair.

Medical coding is the assigning and use of specific codes for every disease, treatment, and diagnoses.  More specifically, a medical coder will require a very good knowledge of general coding and have very strong computer literacy. Professionals responsible for billing, on the other hand, will require accounting or billing expertise. Courses range from a six-month certificate geared towards individuals who already have a background in one area to the two-year accredited degree.

The more qualifications and education you can get the better in terms of career opportunities and salary. The medical world is literally crying out for experienced or knowledgeable members of staff. With excellent future prospects in an industry that will never fade and is virtually recession-proof, the future is definitely bright for the right applicants.