Medical coding and medical billing are typically referred to so interchangeably that many people have come to be under the impression that the two are the same thing. There are distinct and important differences between the two terms that need to be understood thoroughly by those looking to enter the field. A large part of the reason for this confusion is undoubtedly that the two separate functions are often performed by individuals who work in very close proximity to one another. In fact, According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, both of these procedures are actually frequently encompassed in one position.
Medical billers use given codes to indicate to payment agencies, insurance companies and clearing houses which procedures have been performed for a patient by their practice. In order to schedule these billings, billers rely on coders to provide them with accurate informational codes representing any and all combinations that a given practice could have provided.
Where do medical coders work?
1. Hospitals & Clinics
Hospitals need medical coders to document and assign codes for each medical procedure a patient receives. They research codes, interpret patient charts and use specialized medical coding software to assign the proper codes.
2. Insurance agencies
Medical coders who work for insurance agencies see patient claims from the other side of the table. They verify the accuracy of incoming claims and note if any information is missing or incorrect. Then they compare the treatment a patient received to their insurance plan coverage so payments can be processed.3
3. Information technology companies
Many IT companies develop software and products to help healthcare facilities streamline their medical coding and billing processes. Some technical companies even offer services, such as auditing, to catch any errors or incorrect procedures in a clinic or hospital.
4. Educational institutions
Colleges and technical schools need experienced medical coders to train the next generation of coding students.
5. As Freelance
You could be a successful medical coder from the comfort of your own home—or anywhere else you have reliable Internet access!
How do I become a medical coder?
What is necessary is to have a solid foundation of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology education, which can be obtained by earning the Certified Professional Coder credential. Here at CIGMA Medical Coding Academy, our Professional Medical Coding Program teaches you what you need to know in order to become a Certified Professional Coder. Our small class size and knowledgeable staff provide you with all of the tools you will need to be successful.