Medical Billing & Coding Connection

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Medical Billing Specialist

become a medical billing specialist

Becoming a medical billing specialist is a great idea for anyone who feels more comfortable working behind the scenes on administrative tasks than providing direct care to patients. A billing specialist collects payment for services rendered by healthcare facilities. This involves completing insurance claims, recording payments, talking with collection agencies and following up on accounts.

You do not need a degree to become a medical biller, but the job requires a great deal of knowledge regarding insurance plans and the laws that regulate healthcare. You must understand medical terminology, and know how to work with billing forms and software.

Since most employers require certification, it is in your best interest to enroll in an academic program that provides exposure to the skills you will use on a daily basis. Not to mention, the background information such programs provide will help you develop a better understanding of the healthcare field above and beyond administrative tasks.

Find the Right Medical Billing Specialist Program

how to become a medical billing specialistMost certificate programs teach anatomy, physiology and medical terminology. A strong program conveys a broad knowledge of health and human services. At a minimum, your curriculum should cover insurance claim submission and how to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. For maximum benefit, look for a curriculum that teaches business management, office procedures and other transitional skills.

Take Your Exams

The thing to keep in mind when you are researching medical billing programs is whether or not the program has accreditation.

To become a certified medical billing specialist, you will need to earn the Registered Health Information Technician designation, or RHIT. You can get the RHIT designation when you successfully sit for an exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association. To be admitted to the test, you must complete at least a two-year degree from a program endorsed by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management.

In other words, if the program you select does not have proper accreditation, you will not be allowed to take the AHIMA exam or get the RHIT credential.

Put Your Skills Into Practice

billing and coding specialistAfter exiting your program, seek out as many opportunities to gain experience as possible. Most hospitals look for medical billing clerks with previous experience. Here, the catch is that new graduates do not have much experience. That is why it is always in your best interest to take a part-time job in a medical office while you are in school. You will have a competitive edge over other applicants with little to no experience.

If you have difficulty securing employment, then look for work through a temporary staffing agency. Working a temp job will allow you to practice your skill set in a variety of settings and build on your experience.

Learn to Specialize

After you land a job, you may transition to a supervisory role. You may also choose to specialize in a particular area of medical coding. Some medical billing experts go on to earn Certified Tumor Registrar certification, or CTR. The CTR designation allows medical staff to work with medical data that is sent to the National Cancer Registrars Association. Certification programs that lead to the CTR designation take up to two years to complete. Those with the CTR certification tend to report higher earnings.

Working from home is another option available to experienced specialists. In an effort to cut costs, healthcare facilities contract with companies to take care of billing on their behalf. In turn, these companies hire medical billing specialists to complete the work from home.

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