Medical Coding and Billing Services - At-Home Business Opportunities
The health care field is one of the fastest growing today, and with more and more Baby Boomers reaching Medicare eligibility, this field will be (pardon the expression) “booming” over the next 10-15 years. Employment of health records technicians is expected to increase 16% or more through 2013, and many hospitals, medical offices, health care providers, and home health services are outsourcing these skills to home-based individuals.
Think for a minute of every kind of health care office you can imagine - physical therapists, chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, and on and on - ALL of them need coders and billing services!
The new economic stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) recently signed by President Obama provides incentives for health care providers to use Electronic Health Records (EHRs) starting in 2011. This change to electronic records means (1) more billing and coding can be done at home electronically, and (2) there will be increased demand for EHR-knowledgeable specialists in these areas. While at present only 10% of coders code from electronic records, paper records will almost certainly all-but disappear in the next few years.
Home health records technicians come in two broad categories:
- Billing specialists and services businesses
- Coding specialists
Medical records billing services. These individuals understand the requirements for getting medical bills paid by Medicare and provider networks such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They charge by the claim for entering data and submitting claims; some will also manage accounts receivable for their clients. Many physicians, for example, find that outsourcing their medical claims billing offers them faster payments and higher rates of payments.
Physicians submit claims online through secure email (for HIPPA security) and claims are transmitted directly to the provider network. Since everything is done electronically, your clients don’t have to be your neighbors; they can be anywhere.
Coding Specialists. Coders are the people who put codes on claims that get sent out for payment. Excellent coders are always in demand, because the codes determine whether a claim gets paid or not. The American Assn. of Professional Coders says that about a third of coders work from home. Hospitals in particular are finding it cheaper to pay coders to work from home by the hour, either as employees or independent contractors.
I know several coders at a hospital in my town who are being asked to work from home, and my niece works out of her home as a coder. With today’s technology, they can receive doctor’s notes over the Internet and do their coding and send back documents the same way. The average annual wage for a coder is $43,500, but these are mostly employees; specialists receive more. I wasn’t able to determine how much self-employed coders get.
Training and Certification Required. To set up a billing service or coding service you will need to learn the business. You might want to find a local company and work for them for a while to learn, or you can go to training classes. You will also need to be trained and certified. The American Association of Professional Coders offers training and certification or check with the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) for an accredited institution in your area.
If you are detail oriented and good with computers, a home-based billing service or coding service might be a great opportunity for you.
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