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Four Steps to Becoming a Home Based Medical Coder
There are four main steps to becoming a successful home based medical coder.
~ Medical Coding Career at Home
These measures are the difference between individuals DREAM to work from home and individuals ACT. While the steps seem simple, each one is very important and skipping just one of them can change your results.
By investing time and dedication in each step, an individual with no medical experience can achieve a rewarding home-based coding career.
Becoming a home based medical coder starts with the right education. Although the industry itself does not require any specific education before becoming a medical coder employers do. To be considered a candidate for a medical coding job one of two specific certifications must be obtained. Education should be focused on preparing individuals for these certification exams.
While many educational establishments offer extensive coding and billing courses, degrees, and certificates many partially prepare individuals or require too many unnecessary educational courses.
When considering enrolling in an education course ensure the following:
~Education should be focused primarily on medical coding and include only a small portion of medical billing.
~The course must specify that it prepares individuals for CPC certification through AAPC or for CCS certification through AHIMA (any other certification will not be recognized by the medical coding community)
~Courses must total 80 contact hours
~Education should focus 80% of class time on CPT medical coding books and the other 20% on ICD-9-CM and HCPCS books v
~Basic anatomy and medical terminology should be covered in class or become a requirement (this should be the only prerequisites though)
Keep in mind that courses that require a two-year commitment for an associate’s degree can be very beneficial but are not required. Gaining coding certification and achieving a successful home-based medical coding job is certainly possible by taking the right six-month coding course.
The right educational course will perfectly prepare students to sit for one of two medical coding certification exams. While more than two types of certification exist, the ones recognized and sought by employers across the country are the CPC and CCS certifications.
The CPC certification stands for Certified Professional Coder and it is offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). The second type of certification is CCS, which stands for Certified Coding Specialist. This certification is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Each certification requires individuals to sit and pass their lengthy exam (5 – 6 hours). These exams are not cheap and can be overwhelming if not well prepared. Finding an educational course that prepares individuals specifically for these exams is important.
When considering which of the two certifications to obtain it is important to base your decision on both experience and education.
The CPC offered by the AAPC is the best starting point for individuals with little or no medical coding experience. This exam is easier and offers examinees two tests for one price. It also pays more attention to individuals with no experience (labeled as “apprentices”) by providing them with job opportunities and externships.
CCS certification through AHIMA was originally created for individuals with two years or more of medical coding experience. While some individuals with no prior knowledge of coding manage to pass this particular exam on their first try, many do not. This exam is also slightly more expensive and offers examinees only one attempt to pass.
It is strongly recommended for individuals just starting out in the medical coding field to first obtain the CPC certification through the AAPC, work in the medical coding field for some time, and then if they wish to sit for two certification tests for CCS certification through AHIMA.
Once a recognized medical coding certification (the CPC or CCS) has been obtained, finding a medical coding job is the next step.
As with most careers, individuals with prior coding experience will find this step easier than those with no prior experience, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
It is important in this step not to jump ahead of the fourth step. Becoming a home based medical coder requires experience for many reasons. Applying immediately to such positions will only lead to disappointment.
Speed and accuracy are what make home-based medical coding jobs worthwhile, this is because most coders are paid per. coded on the chart. It is better to learn with speed and accuracy while being paid by the hour in the doctor’s office while you are slow and full of questions and then transfer when completely ready.
Since many employers require several years worth of experience, finding that first coding job can be difficult. Try not to get discouraged and make sure you are ready to accept entry level positions.
Many medical coders gain their first few years of experience by working as an extern, taking a part-time position, or accepting front desk, secretarial, or medical records positions and then transferring. to a medical coding or billing paper.
Attending local AAPC chapter meetings is also a great way to network with other local coders, learn about industry leaders, and possibly land an internship.
Because the medical billing and coding field is so broad, you are constantly learning. Don’t ignore the opportunity to ask questions or offer help. This type of experience can be especially valuable if you are a home based medical coder working on your own.
Home Based Medical Coding Career
Most home-based medical coders have 2-3 years of medical coding experience. Since individuals work from home work without supervision and without other partners it is important that they have a thorough knowledge of coding and billing practices, networking abilities, self-discipline and motivation .
While it is becoming more common for doctors to allow an established medical biller or coder in their practice to work from home on occasion, this is still not standard practice.
Most individuals who hold a home based medical coding job are independent contractors. This means that the medical coder has signed an agreement with a larger organization that will provide work and pay for the coder’s abilities.
As an independent contractor you are considered self-employed. Items such as computer equipment, medical coding books, and office supplies are likely to be given to you, but may also be considered tax deductions when filing a schedule 10-40 at the end. of the year. Benefits such as medical, dental, 401K contributions, and paid vacation are usually not offered through contracts and are also the responsibility of the medical coder.
Hiring a company allows you to receive a steady flow of work and a reliable salary from the comfort of your own home. It also saves on things like gas, car wear, work clothes, eating out, and offers great scheduling flexibility.
Some companies that contract home-based medical coders are: The Coding Network, Avia Code, and Maxim Health Information Services.
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