How to Become a Medical Coding Specialist

Are you among the students who are interested in knowing how to become a medical coding specialist? Worry no more this article is a proper guide for you.

Medical coding is a rapidly expanding field that plays an important role behind the scenes in healthcare.

The profession necessitates a detail-oriented approach and specialized technical skillset, and it is ideal for those seeking non-patient-facing positions in the healthcare industry.

It is not difficult to become a medical coding specialist, but it does necessitate an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in science as well as some credentials.

Before we get into who a medical coder’s specialist is and how to become one, let’s first define medical coding. Although medical coding and record-keeping can be traced back to 17th-century England, it has evolved rapidly in recent decades.

According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, “medical coding is the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes”.

Simply put, this is the process of converting critical medical information into simple codes for the purpose of documenting medical records and informing accurate medical billing. This article will teach you how to become a medical coder.

Who is a Medical Coding Specialist?

A medical coding specialist, also known as a medical coder, understands how to construct that narrative. This data management specialist converts healthcare diagnoses, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes that are used in the medical billing process.

Medical coders are responsible for translating physician reports into useful uniform medical codes. These professionals work in a variety of settings behind the scenes, ensuring that all relevant information is appropriately coded to ensure consistency and accuracy. After a medical provider examines or treats a patient, the insurance company or government provider must understand what was done in order to process a bill.

Because common language is too imprecise to provide the precise details required by the insurance company, a set of specific codes has been established to define medical procedures. It is the responsibility of the medical coding specialist to convey this information in a useful and efficient manner.

What a Medical Coding Specialist Does.

A Medical coding specialist converts healthcare claims into universal medical codes in order to receive insurance reimbursement.

To work as a medical coder, you must have a keen eye for detail as well as a thorough understanding of medical terminology, procedure, visit authorizations, and insurance billing procedures.

Although a degree is not required, many employers prefer candidates who have a medical coding associate degree or the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential. When you first start in this position, your boss may have you shadow other billing staff members and be supervised as you submit your first few claims.

Where a Medical Coding Specialist works

Medical coders have traditionally worked in doctors’ offices and hospitals, but these are just two of many options. Some hospitals outsource their billing to a medical coding agency.

Also, Medical coders are needed by government healthcare agencies to handle client insurance claims. Insurance companies employ medical coders to process requests and ensure the application’s accuracy. Medical coders may be employed by law firms that handle cases involving medical services to decipher medical records.

Experienced medical coders may be hired to teach in postsecondary medical coding and billing programs. Medical coders may also be able to work from home or another remote location outside of the office.

How to become a medical coding specialist

See below for the step-by-step guide on how to become a medical coding specialist;

Step 1: Get a Postsecondary Education

Although a postsecondary degree is not required to become a medical coder, some credentials do. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, or a certificate program.

Your best option may be a medical coding school or an education program designed specifically for those aspiring to be medical coders.

Step 2: Obtain Basic Medical Coding Certification

After you’ve completed your education, you can obtain some basic credentials. Some credentials do not require any work experience, and you can sit for the exam if you meet the educational requirements.

The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) and Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credentials are two examples. You can apply if you have an associate degree from a Health Information Management (HIM) program.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience in Medical Coding

After obtaining the necessary credentials, you will be able to begin working as a medical coder. There are numerous job opportunities available, including hospitals, physician offices, and others. With the rise of remote work, you can now do a lot of medical coding from the comfort of your own home.

Step 4: Obtain Advanced Medical Coding Certifications

Once you’ve gained some work experience, you can pursue more advanced credentials to help advance your career.

Some higher-level credentials, such as the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P), require work experience in addition to your educational background, so these are ideal to complete once you’ve been in the field for a few years.

Step 5: Advancement in Your Career

After earning your advanced certification, you can continue working as a medical coder and advance your career as you see fit.

Moving into leadership positions such as compliance auditor, manager, or consultant could help you advance your career. You should also think about furthering your education.

Medical Coding Certifications Required

Becoming a certified medical coder will enable you to find work and learn the skills necessary to keep it. Medical coding allows you to obtain the following certifications:

  • Professional Coder Certification

You must have two years of professional experience to obtain full certification. You should also have an associate degree, according to the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). The online exam is $299, while the in-person exam is $399. You will also need to join the APPC, which costs $180.

  • Certified Coding Specialist

You must have a high school diploma or an equivalent to take the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam. It is also advantageous to possess one of the following qualifications: Coding experience of six months, Completion of a coding program approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Completed another coding program that included the human anatomy, medical terminology, ICD diagnostic, and CPT coding curriculum. The exam costs $199 if you are an AHIMA member. The test fee is $299 for non-members.

  • Health Information Technician (RHIT)

To take the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam, you must have one of the following qualifications: Accredited associate’s degree in Health Information Management. Completed an AHIMA-approved foreign program. Members and non-members both pay $229 for the exam.

Salary of a Medical Coder and Job Growth

The median annual salary for medical records and health information specialists is $44,090, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employment in the field is expected to grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029, which is twice the rate of most occupations. The massive baby boomer generation is rapidly aging and living much longer lives than their forefathers.

This reality is driving massive growth in the healthcare industry as a whole — and medical coders are no exception. The BLS predicts that demand for coders will increase by 16 percent between 2016 and 2026.

That is significantly higher than the general job market’s projected growth. Computer specialists and those with specialties in fields such as health information are likely to be in high demand.

Medical Coding Resources and Training

  • American Association of Professional Coders

The American Association of Professional Coders is a resource for healthcare coders. Medical coding, billing, auditing, practice management, and healthcare compliance professionals will find a wealth of resources at the academy.

  • The American Medical Association

One of the leading healthcare organizations in the field provides a variety of resources for medical coders in the form of apps, newsletters, and other materials.

  • Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA)

With a 25-year history, HBMA is a non-profit trade association that provides health care billing and coding professionals with education, certification, collaboration, and advocacy.

  • Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)

The MGMA offers certification and other indicators of educational success, as well as benchmarking data and statistics. It also organizes industry events, facilitates networking, and creates educational materials for industry professionals.

  • The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS)

The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS)  is a coding specialist network whose stated mission is to improve documentation, compliance, and reimbursement capabilities. The network certifies in nearly 20 different areas.

  • The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is solely dedicated to physician-based medical coders. Visit to learn about opportunities for continuing education, training, networking, and certification.

  • American Association of Clinical Coders and Auditors (AACCA)

AACCA provides certification and training to keep professional coders in compliance with government regulations and up to date with health care industry standards.

Conclusion on the how to become a medical coding specialist

Becoming a certified medical coder will open doors to new opportunities and establish you as a legitimate professional in the workplace.

Medical coders are used by physicians and provider organizations such as hospitals and surgery centers. Medical coders help to secure payer reimbursement, regulatory compliance, and patient care continuity in their daily work, all of which are critical in the healthcare industry.

And, as important as patient outcomes and revenue cycle integrity are, medical coding specialist work has far-reaching consequences, contributing to global initiatives such as:

Monitoring the state of public health, patient outcomes and care are measured, Data enhancement for epidemiological research and determining which medical healthcare services are necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions about how to become a medical coding specialist

See below for the answers to the most asked questions about how to become a medical coding specialist;

  1. How long does it take to learn to code medical records?

A medical coding certificate program can be completed in nine to 18 months. A two-year associate degree in medical coding or health information technology is possible

  1. What does it take to become a medical coder?

Medical coding training programs cost between $4,000 and $18,000 per year. There will also be testing fees for certification exams.

  1. What does a medical coder earn?

Medical coders typically make between $44,000 and $52,000 per year. Medical coder salaries vary according to their duties and location.

  1. Is medical coding a stressful profession?

Some people find medical coding to be a stressful job. The work’s deadlines and pacing require some adjustment, but they are not oppressive or excessive.

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