In a nutshell, medical billing and coding is the process by which healthcare services are codified and translated to an insurance company for compensation. If hospitals and insurance providers represented two ends of the health business spectrum, medical billers and coders would be the flexible intermediaries responsible for ensuring that profit and interaction happens daily between the two. As hard as it might seem to picture, healthcare is actually a multi-billion dollar industry that relies on the coordinated actions of many different experts. General health is especially expensive in the United States: HIV, cancer, and diabetes medications can cost as much as $2,000 per prescription, and the numbers only get higher when medical procedures are taken into account.
Medical billing and coding professionals drive what is traditionally known as the “billing cycle” of healthcare, which can span anywhere from a few days to a few months. Billers and coders live by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) database to determine what procedure matches what code. A broken leg costs more money than a doctor’s visit for a common cold, and the ICD system helps insurance companies and healthcare providers normalize the payment plans and recording procedures associated with patient services. Billing and coding professionals are responsible for keeping up-to-date on ICD data, which is currently in its 9th edition in the United States. The newest codes, called ICD-10, are facing much resistance in the States because they require new software, new infrastructure, and new training for the current generation of medical billers and coders.
Why Are Accredited Online Medical Coding Schools Useful?
Accredited online medical billing and coding schools are uniquely progressive in that they must keep up with the field—it changes every day, and each month a new disease is classified or an older one is consolidated somewhere else. These schools emphasize courses that promote the life-long learning necessary for success as a medical biller or coder, and what’s great is that one can earn a degree from an accredited institution while continuing to apply their knowledge in the workplace. Online schools offer flexibility, pace, and the ability to literally see the benefits of a medical billing and coding education in real time. Brick and mortar schools certainly lack this insightfulness, but they do provide things that online educational regimens do not.
Most accredited medical billing and coding programs emphasize work in the following areas: physiology, medical terminology, information technology, anatomy, and communications. Because medical billing and coding professionals operate with unique software, they must be both technically and personally capable of dealing with patients, insurance representatives, and of understanding the often-complex language of doctors.
There are two major bodies dedicates to accrediting medical billing and coding programs in the United States:
- The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
- The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
These accrediting agencies are responsible for assessing the rigor and standards of a school’s medical billing and coding programs. If online schools bear accreditation from the AHIMA or the AAPC, you can be guaranteed that you’re getting a quality education—but that’s not all.
Getting certified from an accredited institution also lets future employers know that a candidate absolutely has the skills they need succeed in the fast-paced medical coding profession. In a realm where new diseases are discovered every day, insurance policies change, and doctors can be understand, medical billers and coders especially are responsible for maintaining a delicate balance within the healthcare. In reality, without coders the “industry” of healthcare would fall apart. These professionals are a vital part of society, and there will always be a need for people will the skills required to make the business of healthcare operate functionally.