Certified Medical Billing and Coding – How Much Do Medical Coders, Billers and Billing Specialists Make?
The medical coding field has been growing rapidly in recent years, and it’s expected to continue growing even faster in the next few years. That means that now’s the time to become a medical coder, so you can take advantage of this rapidly expanding field and reap the financial rewards that come with it! To help you learn more about medical coding and how much you can expect to make, here are some quick facts about medical coders, billers and billing specialists as well as their salary ranges.
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There are several positions in medical billing & coding which have different salaries. The CPT-4 code set is used for physician services; there are separate specialty sets for other health care providers (the HCPCS Level II codes). For physicians, compensation varies by years of experience as well as subspecialty.
For example, a cardiologist will earn more than a family practitioner or pediatrician. According to AMA data for 2016-2017* (Bureau of Labor Statistics), a board certified cardiologist earned an average salary of $284,000 while a general internist made $195,000. In contrast, a family practice doctor earned an average salary of $158,000 while pediatricians made an average salary of $159,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that medical coders will make an average of $36,500 per year in 2012. The bottom 10 percent made less than $20,000 while top earners earned more than $56,000 annually. Medical coders are often employed by hospitals or doctors’ offices; however, there are many opportunities for independent contractors as well. Income is highly dependent on experience and employer type.
Some medical coders can take home more than $50 per hour when they’re working with small physician practices or running their own business. Many medical coders specialize in a specific area such as insurance billing, patient billing or procedural coding. It’s also possible to become certified to code medical records from multiple specialties. In addition to high pay rates, medical coding careers offer great flexibility.
It’s common for people who work full-time jobs to do some freelance coding on nights and weekends, making it easy to earn extra money without giving up your regular job. Medical billers: As of May 2011, all states require physicians to have a licensed biller so they can be paid by Medicare.
What Does a Medical Coder Do?
The term medical coder is a little bit of a misnomer. A medical coder doesn’t really code or categorize any health information; rather, they are primarily responsible for performing clerical tasks related to billing. However, there is more to being a medical coder than simply coding.
The job involves working with an insurance company to make sure that they have all of the necessary information regarding services rendered. This usually involves data collection and analysis – making sure that everything on your end is as accurate as possible in order to eliminate any confusion regarding payment.
According to a 2013 survey by The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), medical coders make an average of $51,000 per year; medical billers make $52,000. The 2013 Medscape Physician Compensation Report shows that physicians in private practice make about $200,000. On top of that, doctors can charge for office visits—typically $100 to $250 each. (An eye doctor charging somewhere between these two figures might see 40 or so patients every week.)
When you add it all up, you get a ballpark figure of roughly six figures for a typical primary care physician working in his or her own practice. And there’s no shortage of optometrists out there who don’t have their own practices. In fact, according to MGMA, the number of independent practitioners has been decreasing over time as more doctors join groups. So how much do medical coders, billers and billing specialists make at those groups?
According to one job posting site, medical coding jobs at group practices pay anywhere from $30K/year on up (with most positions paying around $50K). But here’s where things get interesting: that same site lists medical billing jobs at hospitals paying anywhere from $50K/year on up (with most positions paying around $75K). What gives?
Medical Billing Specialist Salary
What You Need to Know Medical billing specialists can make anywhere from $40,000 per year to over $100,000. The average salary for a medical biller is about $57,000 per year. The median wage for a medical coder or biller is around $50,000 per year.
If you want to be able to earn more than just an average salary in your area of expertise then you need to get specialized training that will allow you to enter into higher paying fields like being a Coding Specialist or Certified Professional Coder (CPC). These positions are available all across America but it does require some specialized training. There are numerous organizations that offer these types of courses online or at local colleges and universities.
$42,000 per year. If you’re looking to enter into medical billing but aren’t sure which avenue is best for you, a medical biller job description might be for you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median wages for medical billers with an associate degree are $41,920 per year—but those with on-the-job training can earn as much as $61,710 annually.
Medical coders also make decent money; some coders make more than $45 per hour at their jobs. As with many well-paying careers in healthcare administration, working your way up to a senior position may take years of on-the-job experience. But if you have an interest in health care, it could be worth it.
ICD-10 vs. CPT-4
The Uniform Coding System (UCS) established by The American Medical Association (AMA) includes two sets of codes: International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT-4). Both sets can be used for different types of reimbursement.
CPT is for physician billing, ICD-10 is for hospital billing. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has announced that ICD-10 will be implemented in October 2015. The reason behind switching to ICD-10 is so medical practitioners have access to more specific diagnostic codes that are easier to use in coding claims.
How to Become a Medical Coder
There are many skills you need to be a successful medical coder. First, medical coding is all about knowledge of diseases and procedures. These codes describe diagnoses as well as list office procedures on claim forms submitted to insurance companies or Medicare.
While much of it is rote memorization at first (you’ll quickly get comfortable with any disease you see enough times), coders must also have an understanding of how insurance companies reimburse doctors for certain services so they can properly code claims.
It’s worth noting that while it’s a lucrative career option, it doesn’t carry quite as much prestige as other jobs in healthcare like nursing or doctor-based careers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics statistics from 2016 show that medical coding professionals in the United States earned an average salary of $38,000 per year.
To become a medical coder, you must pass a certification exam. The certification process is overseen by either a professional organization or government agency and could include multiple steps to meet standards. The Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) oversees national coding certifications in many U.S. states.
For example, in California all certified coders are required to pass an exam administered by them for billing credentialing.:4 Since 2010, medical coding certifications have been granted by National Board of Coding Informatics Inc.:3 There are also voluntary credentials available from other organizations such as American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC).
One thing to note about these credentials is that they aren’t regulated by any governing body and can be obtained online after paying a fee.:5 As with most professions, experience usually leads to higher pay. According to BLS data, medical billers and coders who had five years of experience earned $48,000 per year on average in 2016.:2 However, if you’re looking for higher-paying positions within your field then consider becoming a management specialist.
As their name suggests, management specialists oversee larger teams of workers at hospitals or physician offices. They earned an average salary of $60,000 per year in 2016.:6 If you want more information on how much do medical billers make click here .
The median income for medical billers, coders and related health information technicians is $32,290 per year. The mean (average) annual salary for these professionals is $37,420 per year. From 2008 to 2018, employment of medical billing specialists is projected to grow by 11 percent. That’s about as fast as average for all occupations.
However, jobs in some specialties are expected to have a much faster growth rate than others. For example, anesthesiologist assistants will experience a 38 percent increase in job openings due to increasing demand for services among patients with chronic pain conditions or injuries.
And jobs for physician assistants are expected to increase 33 percent because more doctors will be working with fewer support staff members during their practices as well as because physicians who own their own practices will hire additional workers to assist them with patient care and office management tasks that previously were handled by other staff members at hospitals or clinics.
Also growing rapidly is job demand for clinical documentation improvement specialists who ensure that medical records are accurate before they’re submitted to insurers; demand for these workers is projected to increase 28 percent from 2014 through 2024. Additionally, computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems can speed up workflow and eliminate errors in coding and billing which has contributed to increased hiring.
Many medical providers are converting to CPOE systems which means there will be greater need for coders who can adapt quickly to new technology. As a result, job openings should increase 23 percent over 10 years. Those with postsecondary training specifically related to medical coding may also find it easier to get hired since certification is increasingly required by employers.
$10 to $30 per hour; $25,000 to $45,000 yearly. Many medical coders have an associate degree in medical office technology or health information management that can take two years to complete. Others hold a four-year bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Although a bachelor’s degree is typically preferred for positions at large hospitals or facilities with many complex coding policies, employment of medical coders who do not have at least an associate’s degree is expected to grow by 16 percent from 2012 to 2022 (as reported by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Employment growth may be faster for those with certifications because insurance companies prefer to hire employees who are trained in coding guidelines from accredited organizations such as AHIMA and AAPC. The median salary for medical billers and coders was $38,420 in May 2015. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,570, while the top 10 percent earned more than $60,240.
Most employers require experience with electronic health records systems and knowledge of CPT codes before hiring applicants. To become certified through AHIMA or AAPC requires passing a national exam after completing training courses offered by these organizations.
In contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical billing professionals in the United States earned an average annual income of $33,500 per year. Section: Related careers with lower salaries than medical coders, billers and billing specialists include home health aides, who earned an average salary of $21,600 per year; pharmacy technicians earning an average annual salary of $30,200; and insurance underwriters ($40,520).
Related careers with lower salaries than medical coders, billers and billing specialists include home health aides, who earned an average salary of $21,600 per year; pharmacy technicians earning an average annual salary of $30,200; and insurance underwriters ($40,520).
The range between these four related careers is significant. Section: Highest-earning states for medical coding jobs were Alaska ($37,730), Connecticut ($38,180), Massachusetts ($39,000) and Washington D.C. ($39,170). These figures may surprise you because these are not traditionally rich areas of our country (at least compared to others). But each state has a strong need for qualified coders to handle their complex billing rules – which helps to drive salaries up here.
In contrast, Alabama was one of lowest paying states at $28,590. Section: Although highest paying metropolitan area in terms of wages was Washington D.C., at an average wage of $42,670 per year. This is likely due to high cost of living in that area – meaning that although wages are higher than other places on a per hour basis – they’re actually quite low when you factor in cost of living.: Although highest paying metropolitan area in terms of wages was Washington D.C., at an average wage of $42,670 per year.
It’s important to remember that these salaries are just a point of reference—it’s possible that coders in certain regions or cities might earn more than those in other parts of the country. And again, your education level and experience (and sometimes even specialized certifications) will affect how much you make as a medical coder.
But hopefully you now have a good idea of what medical coders do for their patients… and how much they get paid for it! For more information on medical billing careers, check out our complete guide here . Or if you’re ready to start your own career as a coder or biller, contact us today for more info. We’ll be happy to help.