How much does a Medical Billing Coding make in the United States?
There hasn’t been a better time in recent memory to make a good medical coding salary.
First, the industry’s begging for more coders to make sure everything runs as it should. There’s no denying that Baby Boomers are an aging population. Healthcare will have their hands full with that generation for many more years to come.
Second, you can sprint up the corporate ladder as a coder by pursuing certifications. Getting only one accreditation makes a huge difference in the eyes of employers. Other coders realize this and established helpful study groups across the internet.
Third, you can work anywhere and make more money than you would if you came into the office every day. Working in a personal office has never been a more attractive option.
Finally, if you decide to be a full-time remote coder you can work for any organization. If money’s important to you, choose to work for one of the higher-paying places.
If you’re resourceful, pursue working for a healthcare company in Hawaii. As a coder, you don’t have to live there. You could be clear across the world on the US mainland and still get your work done. That way you won’t have to worry about a high cost of living, especially if you’re in a different state.
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Medical billers and coders are critical to how medical settings function: Without their work of translating patient care into codes and then submitting those codes to payers, doctors and nurses wouldnt receive reimbursements. If youre interested in joining the field, youll want to know how much you can earn as a medical biller and coder.
These jobs fall under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics category of medical records and health information specialists. The median pay for this field is $44, annually, according to the BLS.
Income varies, of course, and many factors can impact your salary. Youll also find that the job outlook for this field is strong as demand for billers and coders is increasing as healthcare organizations grow to keep up with patient needs, says the BLS.
It helps to remember that medical billing and coding are distinct functions, though workers in these fields share similar skills, and they are reimbursed differently. In general, medical coders typically earn more than billers. Some positions entail one person working as both biller and coder, though that is less common and tends to occur in small markets or small medical settings.
What Factors Can Affect My Salary?
While the median salary for medical records and health information specialists—a category that includes medical billers and coders—is just over $44, a year, pay may vary from job to job. This range depends on many factors: where you work and live, how much experience you have, what certifications you have earned, your level of education, and the healthcare setting in which you work.
Where You Live
You know that real estate adage, Location is everything? When it comes to salaries for medical billers and coders, where you live and work isnt everything, but it does have an impact.
When you break it down, the variance in pay according to location is due to a handful of reasons. First, the cost of living depends on where you live. Population—and therefore the concentration of people who need medical care—can also impact how much healthcare organizations are able to pay.
The West Coast (including Hawaii and Alaska) offers the highest median salaries for medical records and health information specialists according to BLS data, which includes billers and coders. The region that includes Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee has the lowest median salaries for these positions. Take a look at salaries listed in highest paying state order.
Highest Paying Metropolitan Areas for Medical Billers and Coders
In general, jobs in cities pay better than jobs in rural areas. Among metropolitan areas, salaries vary.
Wondering which cities pay the best? You might be surprised. Check out this salary data.
|Metropolitan Area||Median Salary|
|Trenton, New Jersey||$70,|
Where You Work
Even though the responsibilities and day-to-day work is similar for billers and coders no matter where they work, the type of work setting influences how much you are paid. After all, as a biller or coder, you may be qualified to work in all sorts of healthcare facilities. (Remember, youll need to tailor your education depending on where you want to work, since coding systems vary among healthcare settings.)
Health systems and hospitals tend to pay billers and coders the most. Medical and diagnostic laboratories salaries are around the middle of the pack. Median salaries are lowest in physicians offices and outpatient care centers.
Health systems and hospitals tend to pay billers and coders the most.
Keep in mind that some medical billers and coders work from home. These positions can either be remote jobs for employers such as a hospital or clinic, working for an independent company that serves healthcare facilities, or as an independent contractor who works directly with healthcare organizations. Pay in these work-from-home environments may not directly match overall trends.
Before you make the leap to working from home, investigate how much others make doing the same thing in your area.
Earning certifications and credentials influence your pay in several ways. First of all, they provide evidence of your skills, potentially making you more competitive for jobs—including high-paying positions. If you have coding credentials, that looks good on your resume, explains Robyn Korn, MBA, RHIA, CPHQ, an adjunct instructor of medical coding at Purdue University Global. They show you have a knowledge base employers are looking for, making them more likely to consider you.
Secondly, certifications and credentials can move you up the pay scale, no matter the salary you started at.
Some credentials are very specific and demonstrate your ability to fill niche positions. For example, certifications in ophthalmology or gastroenterology are incredibly specialized, and not many coders earn these credentials. That usually translates into higher pay for positions that require this niche training and education.
Your Pay Structure
When youre hired as a medical biller, medical coder, or both jobs, you may be paid as an hourly (non-exempt) employee or salaried (exempt) employee. When you work hourly, you will need to clock in and out to accurately log your hours.
Overall, coders and billers who work more than 40 hours a week are paid more—no surprise there. Some of this increase comes from hourly workers who earn overtime, which is often times the hourly rate.
Employers prefer to avoid paying overtime, though, so this scenario is more likely to play out when an organization is struggling to hire enough billers and coders to fulfill needs.
Some billers and coders with salaried positions work more than 40 hours. Workplaces that have the expectation that salaried employees will put in more than 40 hours a week may compensate accordingly by offering a higher salary.
Independent billers and coders, and those who work for outsourcing companies that serve healthcare organizations, may be paid differently. Other common pay structures include per-case or per-claim or a set percentage of the amount you claim.
How Can I Earn More?
You cant control some things that impact your pay: For example, you cant fast forward in time so you suddenly have more experience. That said, billers and coders can take steps within their power to earn more.
Most important is to be thoughtful and strategic about which steps you take—and in what direction.
Not long ago, several people on Korns staff wanted to advance their careers, so they started a coding program. The problem: The program didnt focus on the type of skills needed to grow their career in the way they wanted. A program or certification only takes you where you want to go if it aligns with your goals, Korn explains.
- Medical coders who have a basic credential, such as a Certified Professional Coder (CPC), generally earn more than those who have finished a training program but havent sat for a certification exam. You can also stack certifications, adding more throughout your career to potentially increase your pay.
- When you network with other professionals in the field, you open yourself up to advance your career, Korn says.
Job Growth and Outlook
The career outlook for medical billing and coding is promising: Employment in this field is projected to grow at 8% through , much better than the overall average of 4%.
The BLS also says an aging population is partly driving the demand for medical billers and coders. As patients age and live with more chronic illnesses, health care organizations likewise need to grow to accommodate these changes. Facilities will need medical coders and billers to ensure they are properly reimbursed for this uptick in care.
Korn notes a trend of increasing use of electronic coding systems and auditing software. These tools are unlikely to fully replace professionals, though. An experienced biller and coder will likely be needed to manage the huge stream of electronic information, ensure the correct codes are used, and ensure an efficient flow of revenue.
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers ongoing education and workshops, professional networking, and certifications. The AAPC focuses more on coding in physicians offices and clinics, Korn says, so this is a particularly important resource if youre interested in those settings.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) provides certifications, education, conferences, and advocacy. If youre not sure what setting appeals to you, you can rely on AHIMA because it gives you exposure to both physicians offices in addition to hospitals, Korn says.
Medical Billing vs. Medical Coding
Reviewed by Brandy Gleason MSN, MHA, BC-NC
The healthcare system is a complicated machine, relying on many different types of professionals to keep it running smoothly. Doctors, surgeons, and nurses certainly play important roles —and so do pharmacists, physician assistants, physical therapists, nutritionists, technicians, and medical billers and coders.
Medical billers and coders make sure healthcare facilities earn enough revenue by sending claims to insurance companies and statements to patients. In short, they ensure that procedures are properly paid for. However, both professions take on unique responsibilities.
If you're interested in the field, then it's important to know the difference between medical billing and coding. This guide explores those differences as they relate to job duties, work environments, certification requirements, and salary outlook.
What Is the Difference Between Medical Billing and Coding?
Medical coders and billers work alongside each other to achieve the same goal, but they take on distinct roles. Below you can see a breakdown exploring the differences between medical billing and coding.
Job Duties Are Not the Same
Medical coders translate healthcare services and diagnoses into codes that are universally understood by insurance agencies. These codes, a series of numbers and letters, serve as a sort of shorthand that ensures billing and payment is correct and follows regulatory requirements. These professionals know what codes to enter for "new patient visit of low complexity" or a diagnosis for pneumonia. These codes determine how healthcare services receive payment, whether through insurance reimbursement or direct patient payment.
Medical billers pick things up from there, using these codes to actually file insurance claims. This involves working with insurance companies, particularly involving any disputes about denials and rejections. Finally, medical billers send out statements to patients.
That said, at smaller healthcare facilities or doctors clinics without as much staffing, sometimes one person streamlines the insurance billing process and works as both a medical coder and biller. Individuals interested in coding and billing can become trained in both areas of expertise if they wish.
Medical Billers Work With Patients; Medical Coders Do Not
Although medical billers do not work with patients in a clinical sense, they do speak to patients regularly about their payments. This isn't always an easy task, particularly when patients aren't happy with their healthcare bills or when they receive rejections from health insurance companies. Therefore, medical billers need to be empathetic and patient.
Medical coders don't work with patients in their day-to-day responsibilities. Instead, their duties focus on records and data input.
Because of these differences, introverts and extroverts may be best suited for different jobs. Medical billers spend their days speaking on the phone with insurance representatives and patients, which lends itself to a more extroverted personality.
On the other hand, medical coders generally work with records and computers. Although they do work with other healthcare staff, they spend the majority of time working independently — an ideal job for introverts.
Separate Certification Requirements
Professional certification can help individuals qualify for certain jobs. Medical coders can choose from various credentials, including:
Medical billers don't necessarily need professional certification to work, but it can help them land a job or negotiate their salary. Billers should consider the certified professional biller credential from AAPC.
Many professionals in the field attend vocational training programs at colleges, receiving a certificate of completion once they graduate. These programs typically last years, and they teach aspiring medical coders and billers the specialized information about health insurance and medical terms they need to succeed in their jobs.
Some students prefer to enroll in an associate degree program in coding and billing instead of vocational training. At the end of their education, graduates earn a full degree instead of a specialized certification.
Distinct Salaries and Job Outlooks
When it comes to medical billing vs. medical coding salary, medical coders generally make more than medical billers. Medical coders earn an average annual salary of about $43,, according to PayScale data from June, By contrast, PayScale data from the same time shows that medical billers make about $40, in mean annual earnings.
Medical coders also have a higher general earnings potential, especially as they continue to work through their careers. Late-career medical coders make an average of $50, per year, according to PayScale data from June, , while late-career medical billers earn a $45, average salary annually.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes these professionals as medical records and health information specialists. The BLS projects that the profession could grow by 8% from to —much faster than average.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Billing vs. Medical Coding
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Coding billing salary and
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