Medical Billing vs. Medical Coding: Are They the Same?

Medical billing and medical coding are two careers that are often lumped together under the heading “medical records and health information technology.” In most cases, you can get started in either of these careers in just two years, so it is a fast way to get started working in the medical world. Many students even decide to enter training programs that allow you to learn about both areas. However, it’s important to realize that medical billing and medical coding are not the same – and certification in one does not qualify you to take jobs in the other. Let’s take a look at each of these career options to you can determine which is right for your new career in health technology.

Medical Billing

First, you can start a career in just medical billing. In this field, you’ll take the information provided for you by medical coders and health care facilities to bill patients or their insurance companies for services, medications, and medical equipment. Your job will include submitting information into a billing program, checking information or updating information so it is correct, and following up with insurance companies or patients who have outstanding bills. In some cases, you may also need to deal with rejected bills, in which case you’ll have to be a mediator between those refusing to pay and health care facilities or medical coding teams.

Medical Coding

Like medical coding, you’ll be responsible for entering patient information into programs. However, instead of dealing with finances, you’re translating the procedures, diagnosis, and other information about a patient into codes for patient records. Insurance companies use these codes to determine whether or not they will pay patient bills and the information is used during future visits. That way, if you change doctors or have to see a specialist, they’ll understand exactly what is going on without having to try to interpret another doctor’s notes.

Doing Both Jobs

At smaller facilities, medical billing and coding might be done by a single person or team rather than separating the two since they are so closely related. Doing both jobs sometimes simplifies things, since records don’t have to pass through as many hands, and it also allows you to earn more money – but you’ll also need more education and have more responsibilities. It’s help though, because many people get trained on both, so by having one person handle both sets of responsibilities, it enables the staff to have more people committed to patient care.

Enjoying The Work

Medical billing and coding professionals have the large task of handling a crucial element to the financial side of medical practice. While this job comes with important responsibilities, it should be noted that it is a job that truly can test the patience of attention of anyone. Understanding what you will be doing coming into the profession is crucial to prevent burnout or refusing the task. For those who do really enjoy the work, it can be incredibly satisfying and open the door to even more work in the medical field.

Finding Employment

Since these two jobs can generally be held at any medical facility, it largely gives individuals the flexibility to go just about anywhere to become gainfully employed. Understanding the different costs of living and financial constraints that will be imposed depending on where you move is imperative. Just remember that while you do need a job, you will have the upper hand in choosing where you would like to live to do the work since it’s largely up to you where to move. Since much of the “Baby Boomer” population is entering the latter part of their lives, you will find many more employers centered around where this demographic is living in need of medical billing and encoding employees.

Online Schools in Medical Billing and Coding

Ultimate Medical Academy The Ultimate Medical Academy's Medical Billing and Coding Diploma program preps students to enter the field of health with fundamental medical records management and insurance processing skills. Certified professionals will help healthcare providers run their practices more efficiently by assisting patients with insurance forms and managing financial records with specialized software programs.
Purdue University Purdue University Medical Assisting degree prepares graduates to analyze medical records and abstract data for the purpose of billing and insurance reimbursement. Students learn how to transform procedures and diagnoses into numerical billing format, and qualifying students for future certification with various professional organizations. Graduates will possess the skills necessary for employment in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, and medical billing agencies.
Liberty University The Associate of Medical Office Assisting Program from Liberty University teaches the medical software, terminology and coding used for processing medical claims. The program provides the baseline knowledge graduates can use to find a job in this industry. Graduates will become invaluable members of the medical team.

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