The salary of a medical coding specialist can range anywhere between USD 25,000 to USD 40,000 annually. It may vary, depending on the job location and experience of the candidate.
The job of a medical coder involves translating documents made available by healthcare providers into numeric code, using a recognized coding system. These codes will be used for reimbursement by medical insurance companies. For performing this vital task, medical coders are compensated well by the healthcare industry. The average salary is around USD 32,000 per year and is quite comparable to other healthcare-related professions. Although the salary sounds quite enviable, the job isn’t that easy. Attention to detail and thorough knowledge of medical procedures, terminology, and billing services are the key ingredients required, if you want to excel in this profession.
Education and Job Description
If you are planning to become a medical billing and coding specialist, you will have to undergo a diploma or certificate program. The coursework for these programs will include topics like anatomy, pharmacology, medical terminology, etc. There are different programs lasting anywhere between 4-18 months and there are over 200 colleges and universities from which you can acquire a bachelor’s or associate degree. Educational prerequisites for coding programs include having a high school diploma or GED. Students will also be required to have an Accredited Record Technician’s (ART) certification issued by the American Health Information Management Association.
The job involves the use of computers and advanced medical billing software. Proficiency is required in the International Classification of Disease Manual – Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) and the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) manual. The coding specialist will have to evaluate medical reports generated by doctors and healthcare providers and assign correct ICD-9-CM and CPT codes. They will then have to submit these documents for reimbursement to insurance organizations like Medicare.
According to national statistics, the salary can average at a comfortable USD 35,000 per year, if you have the right educational background. Medical coding jobs are mostly offered by hospitals and clinics. The salary will also depend on the size of the employer’s business. Like most professions, the salary depends on the geographic location of the job. They mostly work in the medical billing and claims department of hospitals.
Medical coding specialists working in urban settings will earn comparatively more than their counterparts working in rural settings. The average salary in the state of California is around the USD 44,000 per year mark. In the state of New York salaries are known to touch the USD 49,000 mark. Statistics for average salary in states like Ohio indicate that the median wage is around USD 40,000. The average medical coding salary drops to about USD 34,000 per year in states like Alaska.
Medical coders who have specialization in areas like cancer registry are known to earn better salaries than their counterparts without a specialization. The salary can reach USD 50,000. People with over 15-20 years of experience in this profession also earn salaries that average between USD 45,000 to USD 52,000 per year.
The government spending in the healthcare industry is expected to increase and therefore, the salary graph is also expected to rise over time. Candidates who have an attention to detail and are comfortable with the use of technology, like computers and medical software, will do well in this profession.