Why Are Medical Coders in High Demand?
The United States has a greater demand for highly qualified medical professionals than any other time in our nation’s history — and the need is only expected to increase in the coming years. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend numerous long years studying to become a doctor or nurse to take advantage of the healthcare job explosion. For many people, becoming a Medical Insurance Billing and Coding professional can be a great way to enjoy a long and rewarding career in healthcare.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical coding career outlook is extremely bright. The BLS includes coders in the occupational category of Medical Records and Health Information Technicians. The number of jobs within this category is expected to increase by 22% between 2012 and 2022.
What Is the Role of the Medical Coder?
Medical Coders are not directly involved in the examination and treatment of patients. However, they play a key administrative role in the function of the modern healthcare practice or treatment facility. Coders have the ability to translate complex medical terminology found in patient records into standardized codes. Physicians and hospitals rely on these codes when treating patients, and insurance companies use them as part of the healthcare provider reimbursement process. Needless to say, employers are looking for accuracy and sound judgment when hiring a Medical Coder.
The Medical Coding Career Outlook: Impacted by the Baby Boomer Generation
What makes the Medical Coding career outlook so bright? The huge Baby Boomer population, consisting of individuals born between 1946 and 1964, is getting older and requires more medical attention. This is placing a heavy demand on the healthcare system, and more workers in all areas of healthcare, including Medical Coding, are being hired to meet the demand and ensure adequate patient care.
Longer Life Expectancy
Americans are also living longer, and this trend is expected to continue in the years to come. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average life expectancy for individuals born in 1970 is 70.8 years. For those born in 1980, the number increases to 73.7 years, and for people born in 1990, the average jumps to 75.4 years. Additionally, the number of centenarians — those individuals who reach age 100 — is increasing by an average of 5.5% per year.
As people continue to live longer and as demonstrated by the Baby Boomers, they will require treatment for the various ailments associated with the aging process. This should also have a positive impact on the Medical Coding career outlook.
High Attrition Rate
The high number of coders leaving the professional is also expected to improve the Medical Coding career outlook for individuals seeking to gain entry into the field. According PRN Funding, an organization that provides working capital to healthcare staffing agencies, the average retirement age for Medical Coders is currently 54 — much lower than in many other professions. As a result, a large number of coders are expected to retire over the next decade.
The Job Requires a “Human Touch”
The Medical Coding career outlook is so favorable, because the job requires a unique skill set that cannot be easily replicated by a computer. While coders use computers and software programs to assist them, it still takes a well-trained human mind to accurately interpret the medical terminology and assess the most appropriate code.
This is where the coder’s ability to make sound judgments comes into play. Coders may also need to contact healthcare providers to clear up any discrepancies that could lead to inaccurate coding procedures.
Excellent Training Can Improve the Medical Coding Career Outlook for You
While the Medical Coding career outlook is certainly promising, it takes the right training to become an attractive job candidate to potential employers. There are typically two options: a Medical Insurance Billing and Coding Diploma program, which can be completed in about 50 weeks, and a Medical Insurance Billing and Coding Associate of Applied Science program, where you can earn an AAS degree in less than two years.
These comprehensive programs cover all the critical aspects that are essential to the Medical Coder job function. You’ll learn medical terms and technology, ICD-10 diagnostic coding, how to handle health insurance claims, and more. By obtaining your certification, you’ll be fully prepared to work in a hospital environment, including urgent care clinics, or even with insurance companies.
Some colleges offering these programs give you the flexibility to pursue your education by attending classes online. These online education programs offer accelerated learning, giving you the opportunity to earn your degree quickly, and allowing you to pursue your new career in Medical Coding as soon as you graduate.
Learn More About Your Medical Coding Career Options
To learn more about the wide range of Medical Coding career options, as well as the training opportunities available at Vista College, contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable Admissions Representatives today.