It is crucial to know how much medical coders get paid if you wish to pursue a career in that industry. This will go on to inform your decisions as to whether to go ahead and the highest paying state in the U.S. to relocate to.
This article is set to answer the questions related to medical coder salary and how to become a certified medical coder.
What is Medical Coding?
Medical coding has to do with interpreting and translating medical information employed in a treatment process into a universal medical alphanumeric code for record purposes. The adoption of medical coding creates a recording system that is easily updated, accurate and detailed without necessarily using many words. Also, one gets to maximize the space needed to store this information.
Medical coders can work anywhere as long as their work is unhindered. But one can most likely find them in healthcare insurance companies or any healthcare establishment. In addition, their work affects the medical coding salary structure because it is determined by the qualifications and experience of the medical coder. The details to be coded come from the patient’s medical records, the treating physician’s clinical notes, and laboratory reports or diagnoses.
How Much Is A Medical Coder Salary?
As of 2020, the average medical coder’s salary was $45,240. Currently, medical coders earn $44,772 a year in the United States.
In determining a medical coder’s salary, we should first know that medical coding is a high-income skill. It is also a much sought-after skill as most healthcare establishments now desire to have accurate records of all medical processes.
The medical coding salary, however, depends on experience and qualifications. Also, the type or branch of medical coding determines the medical coding salary. In addition, medical coders who work remotely make more money than traditional medical coders.
According to the AAPC, non-certified coders make an average salary of $41,543 per year while certified coders earn 39% more — an average of $57,646 per year. Adding a second certification increases that average salary to $63,085. The AAPC found that, on average, medical coders (certified and non-certified) make $53,051 annually.
Medical coding as an industry project to grow much bigger in the coming years, at least by 13%.
Medical Billing & Coding Salaries by State
Location is one of the greatest variables in determining medical coder salaries. Each state in the United States has its own economy, cost of living, and average salary.
Let’s take a look at Medical coding salaries by state:
|State||Average Salary||Average Hourly Rate|
|District of Columbia||$54,667||$26.28|
Types of Medical Coding
There are several classes or types of coding employed for specific purposes. But these types of medical coding are the common medical coding systems that most countries of the world adopt. Thus, there are three types of medical coding and they are:
1. International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition (ICD-10)
ICD-10 codes were set up and modified by the World Health Organization. Today, governments around the world use them. Currently, in the United States, this form of coding has further been divided into two:
- ICD-10-CM, which deals with Clinical Modifications, and
- ICD-10-PMS which is the Procedure Coding System.
While the clinical modifications deal with the diagnosis, the procedure coding system deals with inpatient hospital procedures. This particular type of coding has undergone ten modifications. Besides, the tenth and most recent modification adds more causes of death to the list. A basic ICD-10 code may read like this:
- A00-B99…infectious and parasitic diseases
- D50-D89…Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs and disorders involving the immune mechanism, etc.
2. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)
They are the commonly used types of medical coding that exist in most healthcare establishments. They are further divided into three categories:
- Category 1 – Uses a set of five-digit codes that describes a particular Medical service or procedure. It has six sections and they are evaluation and management, anesthesiology, surgery, radiology, pathology, and laboratory medicine.
- Category 2 – They are a set of supplementary alphanumeric codes used for tracking execution measurement.
- Category 3 – These are codes that are used for developing medical technologies, procedures, and services. The CPT code may most often look like this; 90387, described as “Individual Psychotherapy. 60 minutes.”
3. Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System (HCPCS Level II)
This type of coding is built upon the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT). The HCPCS codes are used for paramedical supplies and products that are not directly related to a physician. Examples include medical services such as ambulances, drugs, stretchers, etc.
Note that ICD codes differ from CPT codes. The former refers to medical diagnoses and the illness or disease. On the other hand, the latter deals with treatment procedures.
What Is The Importance of Medical Coding?
Medical coding has to do with data interpretation, exchange, and transfer. To have information overload, medical coding permits the effective and smooth conversion of large amounts of data. Medical coding also permits uniformity of documentation between healthcare establishments.
This means that medical coding for a given treatment procedure for an illness (cancer) reads the same everywhere in the world, despite the location.
Consequently, medical coding permits efficient research and analysis in combating diseases within geographical areas. It also aids the government through its public health institutions to combat epidemics and endemic diseases. Again, medical coding helps hospital administrators to judge the usefulness and effectiveness of a hospital’s prescribed mode of treatment for a specific ailment. It helps to present accurate data to healthcare insurers for the payment of medical costs. One of the biggest challenges for a medical coder is in knowing current and efficient medical codes.
Where Can A Certified Coder Find A Medical Coding Job?
A medical biller or coder will find job opportunities at an array of companies. Some of these potential employers fall into the category of provider organizations and some are part of the larger healthcare ecosystem.
With only a few states paying more than the national average, transferring to a new place as a School Nurse should be approached with caution. Cost of living costs should also be taken into account.
Software and durable medical equipment vendors, insurance companies, government organizations, educational institutions, billing companies, risk adjustment vendors, healthcare consulting firms, and some law offices are among the companies that do not provide direct patient care.
Skills Required To Become A Medical Coder
There are both soft skills and core qualifications a medical coder must possess to thrive in this profession. These skills are below:
1. Attention to detail
A medical coder must be able to pick the finer detail of every patient’s records. Because every code represents an item in medical practice, a medical coder must detect any discrepancy or misinformation. Thus one must minimize errors.
2. Communication skills
The medical coder must communicate with both persons in his field. From medical personnel to patients, and insurance companies the medical coder must be able to convey information across. This is the customer care aspect of medical coding. It is needed both in verbal and writing communication.
3. Computer Literacy
This is a requirement in medical coding. Bookkeeping will take place through the use of the computer and other applications. This does not however discount traditional bookkeeping.
4. Accounting and bookkeeping
Another requirement for medical coding is an understanding of the basic accounting principles.
The ability to solve problems and bring lasting solutions to difficulties is necessary as a medical coder. Putting order to chaos and creating structures in a system functional and effective.
This is the ability to work with persons across several professions and fields without friction.
A medical coder has access to sensitive materials belonging to a patient. Therefore, one must be confident about these medical cases. This is in line with the patient’s right to confidentiality. A default can lead to a lawsuit.
8. Ability to work without supervision
The medical code should possess this ability to begin a task and complete it with less external motivation or supervision.
What Are The Qualifications Needed for Medical Coding?
Several qualifications are necessary to be certified in medical coding. Medical coders must acquire one or all of these certifications listed below to excel in their careers.
- Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
- Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
- Certified Medical Coder (CMC).
In addition, the above qualifications are tailor-made for the various aspects of medical coding. For instance, the certified professional coder codes for outpatients. The certified coding specialist codes for inpatients, while the certified medical coder is less common than the other two. Still, there are general qualifications aside from the above and these are:
- Associate’s Degree in Medical coding or completion of a medical coding certification program
- Basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, and the medical coder should be able to update this knowledge.
- Superior mathematical skills. This sounds like bad news for persons who have an aversion to math. However, what is needed here is basic knowledge of mathematics and calculations.
- Familiarity with ICD-10 codes and its bookkeeping procedures
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you work from home as a medical coder?
One of the benefits of having a medical coding career is that you can work from home. In fact, many medical health providers outsource their jobs, including medical coders.
Is it worth it to become a medical coder?
Yes, it is. If you have the right training and a little hard work, you can overcome the challenges of medical coding and billing. This will equally help you to land a great job at a critical time in the field. All you need to do is to enroll in the right medical coding program.
Does medical coding require math?
Overall, the requirements for a successful medical coding career are strong keyboarding and reading skills. However, if you want to know, you also need to have basic math skills.
Can one excel as a medical coder without the right skills?
With the right certifications and soft skills, one can excel as a medical coder. Skills such as communication, attention to detail as well as understanding basic principles of math, accounting, bookkeeping, etc. are the prerequisites. Foremost is computer literacy. Asides from the certifications, one would need to either code for the inpatient’s arm of the hospital or outpatient.
Medical coding is known for its resourcefulness in data collation and retrieval. Each code is the shorthand that represents a medical terminology used to describe every aspect of a medical treatment process. Facts used for medical coding are usually gotten from a patient’s records.
Lastly, knowledge of the medical coder’s salary will help you to determine if it is the right career path for you or not.