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How Do I Become a Medical Billing Coder?

A medical billing coder may work in a hospital.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2014
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Medical coding is the process of using a specific set of codes accepted by health care professionals and health insurance providers to identify different kinds of treatments, diagnosis, and medications. The use of coding saves a great deal of time and effort when processing paperwork relevant to ongoing treatment, billing for services rendered, or when filing an insurance claim. A competent medical billing coder can work in several different environments, including taking assignments for work at home. If you think that this type of medical billing work is for you, here is what you need to do in order to become a medical coder.

Your first step is to locate an accredited training program that will teach you everything you need to know in order to become a medical billing coder. Often, programs of this type are offered by vocational and technical schools. However, if there is no such program in your area, check for accredited online programs that you can complete at your own pace. Always verify the status of the program, as not all online medical coding courses are certified or accredited. While you may learn a great deal from an unaccredited program, it will not help you in securing your certification.

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Once you have successfully completed the training program, you will receive a certificate of completion. This document serves as evidence that you do have the knowledge and skill set to work as a medical billing coder. In many places, this will be all you need in order to be eligible for coding jobs at hospitals or with an insurance company. However, there are some jurisdictions that require an additional exam before you can obtain full medical coder certification. Check with your local municipality to determine if a requirement of this type exists and how you can apply to take the exam.

With your credentials firmly in place, your next step is to find gainful employment as a medical billing coder. If you prefer to work for someone else, apply for positions at doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies. Each of these potential employers have a need for a certified medical coder on a continuing basis. Even if there are no positions available currently, placing your application will make it possible for them to contact you when there is an opening.

As an alternative, you can establish yourself as an independent contractor and offer your services to clients who do not require a full-time coder. Before soliciting local clients, make sure to obtain a business license from your municipality. This will add credibility and a sense of professionalism that will make it easier for you to secure appointments with prospective clients.

Pursuing a career as a medical billing coder can open the door to many possibilities. Whether choosing to work for others or deciding to establish your own coding business, training as a coder will make it possible to enjoy a career that is fulfilling and serves a necessary function in today’s world.

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