Can You Do Medical Billing and Coding From Home?
April 11, 2014
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Is working at home a dream of yours or a necessity because of rising childcare costs? If so, you might want to consider a career in medical billing and coding. In this profession, you can often telecommute from home or start your own business closer to your family priorities.
Back to School
The first step thing you'll need to take is getting some training and credentials. Some medical billers receive on-the-job training in a doctor's office, but it's preferable to go through a formal training course in medical billing and coding. You'll also want to take a test to become certified once you graduate from your training as a further credential when seeking employment or trying to set up your own independent business. Formal training and certification will give you a big advantage in the job market.
Paying Your Dues
In a perfect world, you could just leave school and go right into a work-at-home position or your own independent business, but the reality is you're going to have to pay your dues first. Seek a job doing medical billing and coding in an office setting where you can learn and practice the skills you'll need, such as the new ICD-10 diagnostic codes and understanding the forms related to billing, such as UB40 and HCFA.
Negotiating a Better Deal
Once you have six to 12 months of experience in an office setting, ask your employer about the possibility of telecommuting from home. If you're lucky, your first job is a company that supports moving employees to a home office. Even if your employer hasn't done this in the past, it can't hurt to inquire about the possibility of telecommuting. Worst case, you may need to start browsing the job classifieds to find a company that will allow you to move to a home office. But if you've got your education, your certification and at least year of experience in an office setting, you'll be in a very good position to get a job with a company that supports work-at-home.
The Challenges of Work At Home
However, while working at home seems like a dream come true, it presents many challenges, especially if you have children. You have to learn to shut out distractions, and stay focused to get the work done. Also, working in the medical profession and handling medical records, you have to deal with privacy requirements as outlined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). At the very least, this means having a secured Internet connection with your own IP address, which can be considerably more expensive than personal home Internet service. You'll also need an office area that you can lock to keep out any other family members or visitors, even if you live alone.
Going Out on Your Own
While going into business independently offers the most freedom and potential profit, it's also the biggest headache to get up and running. You'll still have to comply with privacy requirements per HIPAA, and you'll have to build your own client base, which means you better be good at sales or be a quick study. Typically, you'll develop relationships with doctors offices who want to outsource their medical billing and coding. And don't forget, you'll have to go through all the usual business considerations of licensing, incorporation, accounting and payroll if you expand to hiring employees.
Working at home doing medical billing and coding isn't quite as simple as some advertisements out there might make you believe, but with a clear, methodical approach, you can reach your goals in as little as a year or two.
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