The other day, traffic on one of my other blogs exceeded that of the hallowed Dot Matrix. I'm happy to provide a link to Surgical Pathology Coder for anyone interested in what occupies my time during the mornings. I warn you: it is dull, technical, hair-splitting stuff. If you have an interest in starting a career in medical billing and coding, consider this a peek behind the curtain.
I am forever seeing ads touting my profession as a hot, growing field. Most of these ads are directed to potential students to specialize in medical billing by enrolling in a private school. I enjoy what I do, I've been doing it a long time, but to describe it as exciting and dynamic is to misstate the facts. The above link demonstrates the kinds of issues that dominate a coders and billers brain power. Competent medical billers and coders are in demand, more so now than ever before. New Orleans seems to have too many at the moment with so many hospitals closed and the population down post-Katrina, but good, reliable help is always hard to find.
It is tedious and exacting work, much of it spent typing and much of it dominated by government regulations and contractual obligations. In it's way it's quite fascinating and stimulating despite being repetitive much of the time. As my other blog demonstrates, many coders and billers specialize in a particular field of medicine. If you work in primary care, you code thousands of flu shots every late autumn, for instance. I've worked in a variety of medical specialties and each of them has their own nuances to master, but once that's done it is pretty much the same thing day after day. If you are happy with that, and I usually am, then medical billing and coding may be for you.
Don't think I'm downplaying the value of my profession. It is vitally important to keep the healthcare system running. Medical billers ensure that appropriate payment is made for medically necessary services. Medical coders ensure that medical information is accurately reported according to a standardized methodology. This isn't just for reimbursement purposes. The reported information is collected by outside agencies like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for research and to track trends in national health.
A medical biller is not the person who sends you bills after you receive medical care. He or she is the person who gets your bills paid by insurance or government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It is an intricate system with many rules and regulations beyond those governing coding. If you like solving problems, no matter how ethereal they may seem, it is a good and rewarding career. It isn't for everyone though.