13 Pros and Cons of Being a Medical Biller and Coder
Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Are you considering a career as a medical biller and coder? Do you know what are the pros and cons of being a medical biller and coder? There are both good and bad aspects to being a medical biller and coder, as with any job.
Medical billing and coding can be a rewarding career, but it is not always easy. You have to juggle a lot of different responsibilities, and sometimes it feels like you are constantly swimming against the tide. But there are also some definite perks to the job. So, before making any decisions, be sure to weigh all the pros and cons carefully. Below you will find the top 13 pros and cons of being a medical biller and coder. These top pros and cons will help you decide if you should be embarking on this path.
What Does A Medical Biller and Coder Do?
As a medical biller and coder, you have a very important job. The task of the medical biller and coder is to ensure that your healthcare organization receives payment for services, reduces costs, and creates financial reports. Most people do not realize just how much goes into these processes on a daily basis. You will need to utilize specialized knowledge in order to work efficiently.
On a daily basis, the tasks of your job will include ensuring that a patient's account is complete before you process it, entering accurate and thorough diagnosis and procedure codes for each service provided to the patient, corresponding with various insurance companies to ensure claims are being processed quickly and correctly, and answering requests from patients, providers, and payers regarding services provided on accounts.
Where Does A Medical Biller and Coder Work?
You will find medical billers and coders working in various settings, including hospitals, home healthcare agencies, physician's offices, insurance companies, medical supply companies, and anywhere else where the primary business involves billing for services rendered. It is also true that many medical coders and billers work as independent contractors. Medical billers and coders who work as independent contractors, either work alone or in teams.
What Is A Typical Medical Biller and Coder Work Schedule Like?
If you choose a career as a medical biller and coder, you can expect your schedule to vary depending on the type of work you do. Some companies require employees to work 8- 10-hour days, five days a week, with Saturdays and Sundays off. However, some billers and coders work from home and set their own schedules each day, as long as they meet deadlines. Other employers may require you to work a flexible schedule, where you work long hours some days and shorter hours on others.
How Much Does A Medical Biller and Coder Make?
As a medical biller and coder, you can expect to earn an average annual salary of $54,797 a year, which is an hourly salary of $26.34. Let’s break down your salary by your experience level.
If you are just starting out in the profession, you can expect to earn an hourly wage of $21.85 an hour, about $45,456 a year. A mid-level experience will have you earning $30.86 an hour or $64,192 a year. Now, if you have been working for quite some time and you have gained a great deal of experience, you can expect to earn an annual salary of $73,150 a year or $35.17 an hour.
Level of Experience
(Source: American Academy of Professional Coders)
Job Outlook For A Medical Biller and Coder
When looking at the job outlook for a career as a medical biller and coder, you will be pleased to know that the new employment for this career is projected to grow by 8.54% between 2020 to 2030. The translates to around 28,600 new jobs. Let’s take a close look. In 2020 there were 335,000 medical billers and coders. In 2030, this career is projected to have 363,600 medical billers and coders. There are 27,400 annual job openings for medical billers and coders, this includes both the new and replacement jobs. These figures show that if you are thinking of entering this career, there will be a job waiting for you.
Employment in 2020
Projected Employment in 2030
New Employment Growth (2020-2030)
Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
TOP CONS OF BEING A MEDICAL BILLER AND CODER
(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being a Medical Biller and Coder.)
1. You must have a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for training programs.
In order to be eligible for medical and billing training programs, you need at least a high school diploma or general educational development degree (GED). This is necessary, as you will be dealing with very specific medical language. The skills you learn in high school will ensure that you have the language and math skills required to succeed in a medical billing and coding training program. So, if you have not finished high school or you have not completed your GED, well, then you do not meet the requirements to enter a medical billing and coding training program.
2. You must complete an accredited training program.
If you wish to pursue a career as a medical biller and coder, you must complete an accredited training program. You can choose between a certificate, diploma, or associate degree program. You can find training programs through community colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and other institutions that offer courses related to healthcare. The required training program to become a medical biller and coder will take you anywhere from 7-24 months to complete, depending on the type of program you choose.
3. You will need to get certified.
After you complete your training program as a medical biller and coder, you will need to become certified to begin your career. In order to become certified, you must sit for an exam. There are two certification exams that you must sit for in order to work as a medical biller and coder. The first exam is the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), and the second is the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). So, I really hope you are able to pass these exams or else you have just wasted your time and money.
2. You will have to renew your certification.
One of the cons of being a medical biller and coder is that you have to renew your certification every 2-3 years, depending on the accrediting body. Some wonder if it is really worth the effort. A common reason for this is that you must complete continuing education units (CEUs) or hours to renew. Some see this as tedious because it means they cannot just "set it and forget," like other fields of work.
3. You will have to learn a ton of new codes.
As a medical biller and coder, you will be expected to learn a ton of ICD codes, and as new ones are added, well, you will have to learn those. This process must be repeated each year as new ICD codes come out. There are currently over 14,000 different ICD-9 codes. ICD-10 currently has over 110,000 different codes! Good luck learning them all.
4. You will be responsible for learning any new updates.
Anytime there is a medical coding software update, the medical biller and coder has the responsibility to learn about it. If any information is not understood correctly, there could be significant problems with coding specific ICD-10 codes or CPT codes. A perfect example of this happened recently when a new ICD-10 code was released for Ebola. Only a few medical billers and coders were aware of this new code, as it was very recently released. In turn, those that forgot to update their software or failed to learn the code got flagged by their private health insurance companies as having submitted incorrect codes on behalf of their patients. A mistake like this could result in delays in receiving payments.
5. You must be able to use a computer.
As a medical biller and coder, your job responsibilities will frequently involve using a computer. It is pretty much your tool of the trade. If you are not familiar with how to use a computer, you will not be able to perform your job, and it will most certainly create more stress for yourself.
6. You could be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
One of the major disadvantages of being a medical biller and coder is that you are at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. One of the most common conditions medical billers and coders can get is carpel tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel occurs when one's medial nerve, which runs through the wrist, becomes compressed, resulting in tingling or numbing sensations in one's hands. This condition can be very painful and annoying for medical billers and coders. Developing this syndrome means you will either have to find a new career or work in pain.
7. You will spend most of your workday sitting.
As a medical biller and coder, you will spend your workday behind a desk. Sitting for such a long time is bad for your health. All-day long, you sit in front of the computer, working on charts, entering data, and looking up information. This can lead to many health problems, including obesity, heart disease, blood clots, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
10. Your entry-level salary is not that lucrative.
When you are weighing the pros and cons of being a medical biller and coder, you need to be aware that the entry-level salary is not that lucrative. If you are just starting out in the profession, you can expect that you will be earning an hourly salary of $13.85 an hour, which is about $28,800 a year. That is not even minimum wage in some states.
11. You will constantly be dealing with third parties.
One of the most significant disadvantages of being a medical biller and coder is that you will have to constantly deal with third parties. These third parties can be insurance companies, employers, and government programs. When you are trying to bill a claim or verify benefits for a patient, these third parties can oftentimes give you the run-around. This leaves you, the person responsible for getting the correct benefits information, feeling frustrated.
12. A career as a medical biller and coder can be stressful
A career as a medical biller and coder can be stressful. Sometimes, the stress can be too much to handle. Having to bear so much pressure can make even the strongest people crack. If you do not deal with your stress properly, it can take a toll on you mentally and physically. Your relationships might suffer outside of work because of your stress at your job.
13. If you work remotely, it can get lonely.
When you are exploring the pros and cons of being a medical biller and coder, working remotely has several factors you will want to take into account. One of which is the isolation that comes with working from home. You can become incredibly lonely. The isolation can take its toll on your mental health if you are not careful. The lack of human contact outside the walls of your home is something to consider when weighing all pros and cons of working remotely.
TOP PROS OF BEING A MEDICAL BILLER AND CODER
(The following are the top 13 advantages of being a Medical Biller and Coder.)
1. This career path will not require years of college.
One of the top pros of being a medical biller and coder is that you can start your career in this field with the completion of a short accredited training program. It will take you anywhere from 7-24 months depending on the type of program you choose. This means that you can get out there and start making money within a short period after graduating high school or earning your GED. Other career paths in healthcare will require years of college after your high school.
2. You can complete your training online.
One of the advantages of being a medical biller and coder is that you can complete your training online. The benefit of being able to learn online is that you can do your training any time of the day or night. You can do it when you have free time, before work, after work, on weekends, etc. Online training will provide you with a great deal of flexibility. Learning online also makes it easier to stick with your training. If you learn in a classroom, you might start off interested, but boredom may set in after the first few weeks, and you will stop going. When learning online, nothing really changes; there is no need to drive somewhere, find parking, and sit in a classroom, which means that there's no need to lose interest.
3. The cost of your training is relatively low in comparison to other careers.
The training that you will be required to compete to become a medical biller and coder is relatively low compared to other careers. The cost to complete a program is anywhere from $1,000 to 3,000 dollars. That is nothing in comparison to different jobs. For example, it is much cheaper than becoming an electrician, which costs anywhere from $7,000 to $15,0000. This is good news for anyone who's interested in the medical billing and coding field!
4. There is room for advancement.
One of the pros of being a medical biller and coder is that there is plenty of room for advancement. After gaining experience in your field, you can work in practice management, medical auditing, compliance, clinical documentation improvement, education, and more. Some medical billers and coders move into being consultants. They may specialize in a particular type of billing, such as electronic transactions or cardiology billing. Some full-time consultants travel and work on multiple accounts, while others establish a base of loyal clients and stay in one place. Career advancement may open you up to earning a larger salary.
5. You can work from home.
One of the most significant advantages of being a medical biller and coder is that you can work from home. This is an excellent advantage for those who have children or pets that they do not want to leave at home during the day. It is also advantageous for those who live in an area where it snows, and you can not get out of your driveway to go to work. Working from home will also enable you to complete all the daily chores that need to be done and still have time for a salary job.
6. You do not have to have contact with a lot of people
As a medical biller and coder, you will not have to deal with many people. This is because the patient will never see you, and almost any co-pay or claim has to be done through the internet these days. You will not have to deal with people in person. The only contact you might ever have is over the phone.
7. You can work as an independent contractor.
As a medical biller and coder, you will have the ability to work as an independent contractor. As an independent contractor, you will be able to work for any medical facility that needs your services. The type of facility you work for will be determined by the services that they need to have billed. The benefit of being an independent contractor is that you can dictate when you will work. There is no set schedule; this will allow you to take on as much work as possible.
8. You can work in a variety of settings.
As a medical biller and coder, you will have the opportunity to work in many different settings. Medical billers and coders can work for health insurance companies, hospitals, medical practices, rehab facilities, long-term care facilities, and even independent professional billing services and more. This is great because if one setting does not fit so well, you have many others to try until you get the best fit.
9. You are in high demand.
One of the pros of being a medical biller and coder is that you will not be going anywhere anytime soon. As a medical biller and coder, you will be in demand for a very long time--much longer than the average person would expect of a career. It is not unusual to see experienced coders working well into their seventies due to the shortage of available replacements. You are in demand, but you also have a lot of job security. You will be able to make significant decisions for yourself and your family because the options will be vast.
10. You can work anywhere.
One of the top pros of being a medical biller and coder is that you can essentially work anywhere. The entire country is in need of this line of work, so you would not need to relocate for your job unless you really wanted a change of scenery. You can easily find a job at a doctor's office, medical facility, hospital, or even with one of the many companies specializing in medical billing and coding.
11. You will eventually earn a great living
When evaluating the pros and cons of being a medical biller and coder, you need to understand that you will eventually earn a nice living. Sure, your entry-level salary is a bit bleak at $45,456 a year, but if you stick out, you can be earning an average annual salary of $54,797 a year. A little over $9,000 is a nice pay increase.
12. You can have a flexible schedule
As a medical biller and coder, you can have the luxury of a flexible schedule. The typical workweek for a medical biller and coder is from Monday-Friday. However, in certain jobs, you can make your own hours for the week as long as you complete your assigned tasks. Now, if you work from home, then you will be able to work your schedule around whatever is going on in your life.
13. You will have some nice job perks
As a medical biller and coder, you will have some nice perks to the job. Some of these perks will include health benefits for you and your family, extra time off, paid vacation, and having a job that you love.
My Final Thoughts
The choice to become a medical biller and coder is an important one. It will affect your future, career satisfaction, and even the health of others. Medical billers and coders are an integral part of the healthcare system. You will provide a valuable service that saves time, money, and resources for both your employers as well as your patients. There are benefits to being a medical billing specialist. Still, there can also be drawbacks- this article of the pros and cons of being a medical biller and coder has highlighted some of them, so you know what to expect if you decide on this career path! I hope the top 13 pros and cons of being a medical biller and coder that you have just read will help you make the decision of whether this path is for you.
Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.