Obamacare, the program that in theory will give wider access to healthcare, has a downside. The downside is that it has raised the prices for the physicians and other medical professionals to provide the care. The overhead cost has increased, but the physicians cannot hire new medical billers and coders.
They have offered them more hours at the same medical billing and coding salary pay rate making them among the lowest paid employees in the medical office. This might be difficult to believe, but even veterinary assistants get paid a higher annual salary. Can you imaging!?
In order to get these jobs, they had to be trained and certified by the state, by passing an exam. Most medical billers and coders go to a trade school, which often does not have access to the latest software package used in hospitals. Coding a bill to be presented to the insurance company is not a hard process, just have to be sure that the procedure is assigned the correct ICd-10 code so that the physician is paid on a timely basis.
The medical office will take the appropriate co-payment from the patient, and if the insurance company does not pay the bill, will have to pass it on to the patient to be paid. Then following up to make sure it is paid, and a constant interaction with the accounting staff to send out statements, and as a last case scenario, turn the bill over to collection.
Medical billing and coding is usually done by two separate individuals, either one can handle the others job responsibilities. There will be a greater need for physicians to hire medical billers and coders in the the future. There are plenty of well trained prospective employees out there, so employers can afford to be choosy. The low salary does not deter people from wanting to go into the field. It is one of the areas in Allied Health where a college degree is not essential.
Medical billers and coders fall into the same category as medical assistants and veterinary assistants (also known as veterinary technicians) who may have had billing and coding training in their trade school, but then choose to focus on the clinical side of medicine. The taking of vitals, doing EKG’s, assisting in physical exams, taking blood as well as clerical duties such as filing and making appointments.
In medical offices, today, all employees except the nurse, physician and nurse practitioner are not making a big salary. The nurse,physician and nurse practitioner had to go through a stringent education, residency and a license process to allow them to practice in the state where their office is. Consequently they make more money than the medical billers and coders and Medical Assistants in the office. Jobs in a medical office often have fuzzy obligations, with everyone able to step into another employee’s shoes, if need be. But a patient does not need to see the physician do medical billing and coding, even if they know how to. This is not part of the physician’s job description, and he/she should not do it, unless he has no other choice to get paid.
This is one reason why many have started to look into a legal career instead. The level of education strictness is the same (even easier with some schools) yet the income is significantly higher.
The medical billers and coders salary should rise in the coming years, but this is not a sure thing. The more applicants a hospital or a physician has for each open position, the less incentive there is to raise the salary for the job.