Medical billers play a critical role in the healthcare industry. Any time a patient seeks medical treatment, a bill is submitted for the services. It’s the medical biller who makes sure the patient gets billed for the services and gets billed for the right procedure and right amount. Here is an overview of medical billers, including how to become one and the career outlook for these professionals.
What is a Medical Biller?
A medical biller is a trained professional who submits bills to patients and/or health insurance companies and follows up to make sure the healthcare provider receives payment for the services. When the medical biller receives a claim for the healthcare services, it’s represented by a code, and it’s the medical biller who translates it into a claim. It’s the medical biller’s responsibility to follow up on the bill until the provider has the final reimbursement.
Medical Billers vs. Medical Coders
Because there is a group of medical workers called medical billing and coding specialists, many people think that medical billers and medical coders are the same. They are two different employees and typically have different jobs. When the bill first comes to the billing department, the medical coder is the one that assigns a code to the medical procedure performed.
The medical coder then sends the claim to the medical biller, and the medical biller translates the code and sends out the bill for reimbursement. Some employees who take the required training program may work as medical billing and coding specialists and perform both tasks.
How to Become a Medical Biller
An individual can become a medical biller a couple of ways. Depending on the employer, the individual may receive on-the-job training. However, most medical billers or medical billing clerks complete formal training programs. These programs, found at technical schools and community colleges, may be either diploma or two-year associate degree programs. The U.S. News & World Report states that there are online medical billing programs available as well.
Certification isn’t require by law, but many prefer to become certified to improve their career opportunities. Medical billers can obtain certification through the American Academy of Professional Coders. Medical billers who don’t complete a formal training program need to have a lot of work experience as a medical biller because eligibility for certification is often either completing an approved training program or having sufficient work experience. There are a few different certifying agencies, and they each have their own requirements.
Career Outlook for Medical Billers
Despite some of their differences, medical billers are often lumped in the same group medical records and health information technicians. In other organizations, they’re categorized as medical billers and coders or medical billing clerks. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that medical records and health information technicians should see a job growth of 13 percent during the decade of 2016-2026. Salary.com reports that medical billing clerks earned an annual median wage of $36,820 as of March 2018.
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As rewarding as it must be to help patients get better, not everyone is comfortable with having direct contact with patients. Many people want careers where they can contribute to the medical industry without having that contact. Working as a medical biller is the ideal career choice for those individuals.