Where do Medical Coders Work? 7 Settings that Might Surprise You
The healthcare industry is constantly growing and changing and one of the top jobs currently in the industry is medical coding. Don’t believe us? Medical coding jobs are expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate of 22 percent through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
You could be the next member of this growing healthcare field. This career path might be your chance to land a stable job and income to support your family. It’s time to make your move . . . but you’re not quite sure where you’re going. Where do medical coders work, anyway?
We turned to the data and expert insight to answer that very question. Keep reading to learn about some medical coder workplaces that might surprise you!
Where do medical coders work?
Contrary to popular belief, medical coders are employed in more than just clinic and hospital settings. In fact, they can work “just about anywhere that provides medical services and bills for them,” according to Lindy Reid, certified professional coder.
FACT: Medical coding jobs are projected to increase by 22% through 2022.
We put this to the test by using real-time job analysis software to analyze nearly 120,000 medical coding jobs posted over the past 12 months.* This data helped us identify the top seven work settings for medical coders.
Here’s what we found:
1. Hospitals & doctor’s offices
There’s no surprise here! Hospitals need medical coders to document and assign codes for each medical procedure a patient receives. They research codes, interpret patient charts and use specialized medical coding software to assign the proper codes. Doctor’s offices and specialty clinics, such as dermatology or dental offices, also use medical coders to process billing and insurance claims.
Hospital patients may receive a number of treatments from several different physicians. That means hospital medical coders should be prepared for plenty of critical thinking and research to track down obscure medical codes. This can be a fun challenge, but don’t rule out working in a smaller, specialty clinic.
“Specialties pay more,” Reid says. “There is always an opportunity to grow your knowledge and expand your coding credentials depending on your interests.”
2. Insurance agencies
Medical coders who work for insurance agencies see patient claims from the other side of the table. They verify the accuracy of incoming claims and note if any information is missing or incorrect. Then they compare the treatment a patient received to their insurance plan coverage so payments can be processed.
Medical coders who work in the insurance industry will need to have a solid understanding of medical codes and be willing to do the research to fill in the gaps. An eye for detail is critical since catching errors is one of their main job duties. They should also be up for the challenge of interpreting the details of insurance plans.
3. Information technology or service management companies
Many IT companies develop software and products to help healthcare facilities streamline their medical coding and billing processes. Some technical companies even offer services, such as auditing, to catch any errors or incorrect procedures in a clinic or hospital.
Medical coders play a vital role in these companies. They’re responsible for conducting audits and reviews to ensure accurate coding and prevent rejected claims due to coding errors. Some medical coders may even teach a class to show healthcare employees how to avert coding errors in the future.
4. Educational institutions
Colleges and technical schools need experienced medical coders to train the next generation of coding students. There are no official educational requirements for medical coders, but the BLS states there are certifications that can be earned from an accredited institution. These schools offer plenty of opportunities for trained medical coders to share their knowledge with students.
Teaching jobs typically require a few years of on-the-job experience, so they make a great option for seasoned medical coders who are ready for a change of pace. This is the perfect career path for anyone who loves the ins and outs of medical coding and enjoys sharing their wisdom with others.
5. Law firms
Billing fraud is a big problem for healthcare providers. Incorrect billing procedures can cause a provider to come under fire for fraud—even if it was unintentional. A provider has to prove that any billing and coding errors were simply mistakes, or they may face criminal charges.
Law firms often hire medical coders to help investigate fraud claims. These coders will examine records to help determine if coding mistakes were intentional or the result of billing fraud. A thorough knowledge of Medicaid laws and regulations is a necessity in this medical coding position.
6. Government agencies
State and federal government agencies, such as the National Center for Health Statistics or state Medicaid departments, are another employer of medical coders. These daily job duties are similar to those of medical coders in other industries: assigning codes, abstracting information and reviewing and auditing incoming claims codes.
Government agencies offer the opportunity to work on projects that may affect healthcare across the nation. Plus there’s another big benefit: the federal government offers some of the highest medical coding salaries in the field, according to a study by the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC).
7. Your living room
That’s right, you could be a successful medical coder from the comfort of your own home—or anywhere else you have reliable Internet access! There are plenty of legitimate work-from-home coding jobs available; just make sure to be on the lookout for scammers.
You could even start your own medical coding business like Beth Morgan, president of Medical Detectives, did. “Being my own boss allows me freedom and flexibility, and I am able to assist all sources of providers,” Morgan says.
She enjoys the unique opportunity she has to perform coding reviews for companies and agencies spanning all of the industries described above. If you prefer variety and could picture yourself working in any of these settings, the self-employed route may be the perfect solution for you!
Medical coding: A job in (nearly) every industry
So, where do medical coders work? Just about anywhere!
Now that you’re aware of the wide array of opportunities for medical coders, you might be wondering if the you have what it takes for the job. Check out this article to find out: Is Medical Coding Really as Hard as it Sounds?
*Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 119,939 medical coding job postings, Aug. 1, 2014 – July 31, 2015.)