Obamacare’s Affect on Medical Billing and Coding

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has redefined how Americans interact with the healthcare system and the role it serves is incredibly important to how individuals will obtain the care they need in everyday life. The legislation was enacted with the goals of making healthcare more accessible, affordable, and higher quality, while reducing consumer and government costs, and ultimately helping make fewer people uninsured. The legislation has also been incredibly important in helping establish minimum health insurance standards, which eliminate problems related to getting turned down due to preexisting conditions. Obamacare is a particularly complex piece of legislation though and it will take a long time to digest all of the ways it will affect those working in the field, as well as patients.

The implications of Obamacare stretch far beyond patients and trickle down to touch virtually every part of the medical field. Billing and coding is particularly situated to benefit from this legislation, namely because of changes related to how many people do their jobs in the field, but exactly to what extent has yet to be seen. Nonetheless, people will continue to go to the hospital, urgent care, and private practice doctors in higher numbers, so these services will, of course, need billed. Below we look at some of the different ways that Obamacare will impact professionals working in medical billing and coding. While it’s not always an upgrade, it’s sure to make the industry stronger overall:

Increased Demand for Work

One of the undeniable facts about Obamacare is that more Americans will have health insurance, which means that demand for coding and billing professionals is bound to increase. Regardless of workload, there will be more jobs available and increased opportunities. It’s important to think about what areas of the country will be most impacted by the legislation because those will be the populaces most eagerly seeking skilled billing and coding specialists. This is most likely to occur in urban areas because there are more of these individuals that have often been more susceptible to an inability to afford coverage. Additionally, while these individuals exist in suburban and rural areas, urban environments have previously been much more dense with these individuals.

Cumbersome Government-Related Processing Issues

A definite concern of Obamacare though certainly rests in various technical aspects of billing and coding jobs. Issues such as retro-termination denials are already plagued with notoriously long processing times, which could definitely impact how long eligibility verifications take. Government agencies’ capacities are notoriously low for handling issues like this in a timely manner and as this aspect of healthcare is made further public, it could prove to be an issue. Other notoriously slow aspects of the job, like pre-certification, can be expected to have even longer wait times to address issues since there will be an additional component of consulting a government agency first. Another concern expressed from those in the field is that as the government has a hand in the prices for medical services, costs will be reduced and ultimately reduce the amount of profits available for doctors, nurses, as well as billing and coding professionals. Fortunately, due to high demand for medical professionals, it’s very unlikely that those involved in billing and coding will experience a reduced wage.

Increased Medicare Efficiency

The expansion of the accessibility of health insurance will provide an impressive increase in the number of individuals involved in the healthcare system, which will help increase the amount of billing and coding professionals needed across the country. The overhaul of Medicare will make sure that more elderly people are able to receive the care they need in a more effective manner. Efficiency is increased through restructuring reimbursements as bundles instead of a fee per service.

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that growth for medical billing and coding professionals will increase by 22 percent from 2012 to 2022. These numbers have been updated since Obamacare was implemented, so it’s important to note that the government doesn’t see any negative consequences hitting the profession because of this legislation. A rate of 22 percent is much higher than the national average, which can be attributed to the two-fold increase of growth in the medical field, specifically because of “baby boomers” entering the geriatric portion of their lives, which will see the largest number of elderly people in the United States in its history. The other reason is because of how many new enrollees will be involved in Obamacare.

Obviously, as with change and implementation new practices in an industry, there are various gains and drawbacks that will impact professionals. Understanding the opportunity cost though is how coding and billing professionals can make the best of these scenarios and most aptly advance in their career. Obamacare is so new that there are assuredly changes that will take place that will refine the industry and try to increase efficiency. More information can be found on The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act here

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