The United States has a greater demand for highly-qualified medical professionals than at any other time in our nation’s history — and the need is only expected to increase in the coming years. Fortunately, you do not have to spend numerous years studying 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 healthcare career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 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 8 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
If you would like to be part of a growing industry, becoming a Medical Insurance Billing and Coding professional may be the right choice for you.
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 can 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.
Why Are Medical Coders in High Demand?
Hospitals, doctor’s offices, insurance companies, and a range of other businesses need Medical Coders to review patients’ records, verify the accuracy of the information, and assign appropriate diagnosis and procedure codes. Medical Coders help healthcare facilities get paid for their services and operate efficiently. As the healthcare industry continues to grow, medical facilities and insurance companies will continue to need the knowledge and skills of Medical Coders. Here are a few specific reasons why Medical Coders are in demand:
1. The Aging Baby-Boom 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.
2. 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 is projected to increase from 79.7 in 2017 to 85.6 in 2060. As people continue to live longer, 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.
3. The Job Requires a Human Touch
The Medical Coding career outlook is so favorable because it 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 assign 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.
4. The Switch to ICD-10
In 2015, healthcare providers were required to switch to the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision (ICD-10). ICD-10 has thousands more procedure and diagnosis codes than the previous revision. This transition has led to a drop in productivity and an increased demand for Medical Coders.
New Medical Coders with training in ICD-10 are needed to help healthcare facilities offset the productivity drop and ensure accurate insurance claims get submitted on time. They are also needed to fill the roles of Medical Coders who decided to retire after the transition to ICD-10. With additional ICD revisions on the horizon, healthcare facilities will continue to need Medical Coders to tackle their documentation workloads.
5. The Rise of Remote Work
More than ever, Americans are working at home rather than going into an office. According to Gallup data from March 2020, the percentage of workers who can work at home or enjoy flex time jumped from 39 percent to 57 percent. Depending on their employer and level of experience, Medical Coders may have the option to work at home or wherever they have reliable internet access. As companies continue to hire remote workers or ask employees to work at home, Medical Coders can still thrive in their careers.
How Do I Become a Medical Coder?
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 as little as 13 months, and a Medical Insurance Billing and Coding Associate of Applied Science (AAS) 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 will learn medical terms and technology, ICD-10 diagnostic coding, how to handle health insurance claims, and more. By obtaining your certification, you will be fully prepared to seek 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, allowing you to earn your degree quickly and pursue your new career in Medical Coding as soon as you graduate.
Learn About Our Medical Billing and Coding Programs
If you want to be part of the booming healthcare industry and enjoy a flexible career with continual opportunities to learn and grow, you might consider Medical Billing and Coding. At Vista College, we can train you in the skills you need to become a Medical Coder and support your job search.
To learn more about our Medical Insurance Billing and Coding programs or our other fast-paced healthcare training options, contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable Admissions Representatives today.