Career Options for High School Grads: Spotlight on Medical Billing and Coding School | Career Training | The Salter School
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Career Options for High School Grads: Spotlight on Medical Billing and Coding School

Category(ies): Health Claims Specialist / Medical Billing and Coding

Career training schools can be a good alternative to college

Close-up of a young African American Medical Billing and Coding Specialist working in an office setting.Do you need more direction in your career? Are you recently out of work or out of school, and wondering how to get your career on track? The good news is: there are hundreds of options for careers! The tricky part is finding a career that fits your interests and skills.

This article looks at the profession of medical billing and coding. Getting trained in this field could be a great step for you if you are looking to get into the field of allied health/health care. Find out more with our frequently-asked questions below.

What is a medical coder?

According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, medical coding is “the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes.” To do this, medical coders review clinical statements and assign special codes to a patient’s records. These are codes that pertain to the procedure or diagnosis that the patient received, and they are used by insurance companies to determine the amount of reimbursement.

The common coding systems that you would learn in your training program would be the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), Current Procedural Terminology (CPT-4) and the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS). These are the systems that medical coders use to assign the proper codes.

What is a medical biller?

The American Academy of Professional Coders describes medical billing as “the process by which healthcare providers submit claims to insurance providers (payers), government programs (Medicaid/Medicare), and/or patients directly in order to receive reimbursement for services.” Medical billers work in doctors’ offices, specialists’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and many other types of healthcare facilities. Working in the billing department requires specialized training because it’s more complicated than simply billing a customer. It involves working with third party insurers, such as private insurance, HMOs, PPOs, Medicare, Medicaid, Workers’ Comp and more. Medical billers also handle denied claims and process appeals. Medical billers learn all of these processes during their training.

Are medical billing and medical coding two separate jobs?

It depends. Some smaller organizations may ask you to handle both medical billing and medical coding responsibilities. Others may hire these two positions separately.

How do I become a medical biller or medical coder?

Becoming a medical biller or coder does not require a college degree. If you feel that college is not for you, this career path may make sense for you. Medical billing and coding programs typically last about one year, and prepare you for an office-based job in a professional setting.

What do I need to enroll in training?

Most training programs, like the one at Salter School, require that you have your high school diploma, or equivalent, like a GED. The next step is to contact the school and find out what materials you need in order to enroll. Before enrolling, be sure to find out about the tuition and other expenses, and whether the school accepts financial aid. Here are some tips of what to look for in career training schools.

Would I be good at medical coding and billing?

Like all careers, some people are more suited to medical billing and coding than others. The traits that will serve you well in this field are: attention to detail, good technical skills, and integrity. Medical billers and coders need to be detail-oriented with good analytic skills so that they can apply the correct codes to insurance claims and maintain accurate billing records. They need to have strong technical skills, so that they are comfortable with the software that is used in the healthcare industry. Integrity is important, because these professionals are expected to handle sensitive, confidential medical information. If you have these traits, you could be a good fit with this career path.

What does it mean to be certified?

Many medical billing and coding schools offer training, but they often don’t offer certification as part of their program. This is because certification exams are typically offered by an outside organization, and you have to sign up for them separately from your training program. Getting certified takes some extra studying and effort, but it is a great way to show potential employers that you are serious about your career field. 

Should I become a medical billing and coding specialist?

There are several benefits to choosing this career field. One is the ability to work in a professional office setting. Another is getting a chance to work in the healthcare field—but without the stress of working directly with patients. If you like the idea of working alongside other healthcare professionals in an office setting, this field might work for you.

What is a typical day on the job?

Medical billing and coding specialists are busy people! Doctors’ offices and hospitals have to process a large volume of electronic health records (EHRs), insurance claims, co-pays, and insurance reimbursements every day, and they need responsible people to do it. A typical day in this job includes:

  • assigning the proper medical codes to each patient’s diagnosis or procedures
  • processing insurance claims
  • working with third party insurers
  • following up on reimbursements that are late
  • addressing issues if an insurer denies coverage
  • keeping track of any missing or unclear items

These job responsibilities may sound overwhelming at first, but before long, you will get the hang of it!

How much do medical billers and coders make?

Wage and salary information for medical billing and coding specialists will vary, depending on your employer, your experience, and your geographic region. Visit the “pay” section of the Occupational Outlook Handbook to get an idea of the type of earnings you might expect.

Where can I find out more about this career path?

If this career option sounds interesting to you, why not find out more? Try these resources to get a clearer picture of what this career could mean for you:

5 Things to Know about Becoming and Medical Biller and Coder

This article highlights some of the key aspects of choosing this career field, from the job outlook for the future to the everyday tasks that these professionals do on the job.

What It’s Like to Be a Health Claims Specialist

This article goes into detail about a day in the life of a medical billing and coding specialist.

American Academy of Professional Coders

This organization is a professional association that offers membership, networking, resources, and certification preparation and exams. Joining a professional association can help you feel more a part of your profession.

American Health Information Management Association

AHIMA is a professional association for medical billers and coders. It has helpful career development resources such as a mentor match, career map, and engaging articles, as well as conferences and training opportunities to advance your career.

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The Salter School is proud to offer a Health Claims Specialist training program where students can get trained for careers in medical billing and coding. Our campus in Malden, Massachusetts accepts applications year-round, with new classes starting up throughout the calendar year. Find out more by contacting us online. We hope you begin your new career journey with us.

The Salter School Malden campus is no longer accepting new enrollments.