According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 179,500 active medical billing specialists in 2010. The number is expected to increase by 21 percent from 2010 to 2020.
With such a growing interest and opportunity in the medical billing field, many are wondering what it takes to become a medical billing specialist. Before diving into the profession, it is important to understand first what the job entails.
What the job involves
The health care industry is one that has adopted technology to make its processes faster and more efficient. In line with this, the need for competent and skilled individuals who will manage the medical billing system has also increased.
A medical billing specialist is a trained individual who prepares medical invoices and sends them to patients. Although the job description may sound basic, the job of a medical billing specialist is a complex one that requires plenty of hours in training.
Similar to an accountant, a medical biller (as they are otherwise known) has to reconcile accounts receivables, review claim forms and communicate with patients regarding payments. The medical billing specialist works hand-in-hand with medical coders to make processes simpler and faster.
What is required for the job
Since the job involves analyzing medical reports and claims, it is essential that a medical billing specialist understands medical terminology. A candidate for this job must have a thorough knowledge of health care and debt collection laws, healthcare reimbursement processes, and classification and coding systems.
The job requires plenty of analysis, and so it is important that a medical billing specialist has a higher than average mathematical and analytical skills. He or she must be detail oriented and well organized to become successful in the job.
Contacting patients for follow-ups also goes under the medical biller’s job description. Thus, it is vital for the candidate to have excellent communication skills and a good sense of customer service.
What education is needed to become one
Although no specific college degree is required for the job, medical billing specialists must have at least an associate’s degree to qualify for work. There are also certificate courses available, both online and offline, which include healthcare terminologies, insurance billing procedures and medical billing computer systems in the course curriculum.
Certification for medical billing is optional, but it gives an individual an edge over the other candidates. Moreover, a certificate in medical billing is a deciding factor in how much salary will be offered. The certification will only become available once a medical billing specialist passes the examination.
The job of a medical billing specialist pays well, depending on the candidate’s credentials. The median wage was pegged at $32,350 in May 2010. Salaries fluctuate however. On the low end specialists made $21,240 or less while the top specialists made more than $53,430 according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. As mentioned earlier, the salary paid depends on an individual’s qualifications.
Reasons to enter the field
The medical billing industry is a relatively new but quickly growing turf. More people are expected to enter this field, given the above average salary and excellent working environment.
The road to becoming a medical billing specialist is not a long one—in fact, courses can be finished in just a year. Moreover, people who are interested in the medical field but do not want to directly work with patients would find gratification in becoming a medical billing specialist. There is also the likelihood of being able to work from home and being to work at your own time.