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Medical Billing Vs. Medical Coding: What Career Should You Choose?

March 2, 2015 Medical Billing and Coding, General 0 Comments

If you're thinking about a career in the health care industry and wondering whether administrative work in either medical billing or coding is right for you, then the good news is that both paths are growing fields, with a 22 percent increase expected by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Picking a path largely depends on whether you have a head for numbers or a head for anatomy.

Medical Billing Vs. Medical Coding: What Career Should You Choose?Medical Billing Vs. Medical Coding

Though both fields focus on the administrative end of patient-procedure health care, medical billing and medical coding each require a unique skill set.

Medical coders translate patient care into current procedural terminology (CPT) codes. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that the medical services provided are accurately coded, per Explore Health Careers.

Medical billers are responsible for creating a claim based on the codes a medical coder provides. They make sure a facility receives the highest reimbursement possible for a claim, according to the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Medical billers need to understand how different insurance companies determine claims. The better a biller understands the regulations and guidelines of the industry and the respective insurance carriers, the greater their chance of ensuring a facility has correct and timely reimbursement rates.

Because these positions work in tandem with one another, some small offices hire people to do both jobs. The primary difference, however, is that medical coders translate medical services into codes, while medical billers translate the claims from these codes into reimbursements from insurance and patients.

Medical coders also work with physicians, health care facilities and billers, while billers work directly with insurance companies and patients in addition to physicians and health care administrators.

What's Required in Both Fields

Those interested in becoming a medical coder need to become certified in basic CPT. Nowadays, many coders have multiple certifications for different specializations. Competent coders, according to Explore Health Careers, can save an organization thousands of dollars a year in correctly coding services, thereby increasing insurance reimbursements.

Medical billers aren't always certified. But per the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA), an increasing number of health care facilities and physicians want to hire billers who are certified because their knowledge of regulatory and business issues can help offset fraud and increase revenue.

Why Choose One Field Over the Other

Medical billers have more autonomy since they can work as an independent service from a hospital or physician's office, whereas medical coders usually work directly in health care organizations.

If you're of a more independent nature, you might be better suited for a career in medical billing. You can work on your own as a biller, but customer service and working with insurance companies is still part of the job. This requires you to work with and reach out to many people throughout the day, making this position a good fit if you also tend to be more social or entrepreneurial-minded.

If you like to work in a collaborative environment, then medical coding fits that requirement. Though medical coders don't work directly with the public, they do work with physicians and other health care workers. They need to be confident in working with physicians and administrators, and the position could be a good option if you're more introverted.

Choose the Career That's Most Appealing

If the idea of translating services into cash excites you, or you think you could be great at creating more efficient systems for increasing an organization's revenue, then medical billing might be where you want to start. But if you enjoy learning about the human body and memorizing and translating complex services into codes, then coding might be the place for you. When it comes to medical billing vs. medical coding, gaining both the right certifications and work experience will help you decide which career is right for you.

Photo credit: Flickr

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