Healthcare reform has been a hot- button issue for American voters ever since the initial draft of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was first discussed in Congress about a decade ago. For Ithe 2020 presidential election, healthcare was repeatedly debated by candidates in the large Democratic field, and voters paid close attention to the various proposals that would overhaul the health system of the United States. From Medicare for All to hybrid public and private medical insurance systems, it is safe to assume that the ACA could undergo major changes over the next few years, but one aspect of the national healthcare system that will not change is the crucial work that medical coding and billing specialists will continue to provide.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for medical coding and billing specialists, who are often classified under the health information technicians category, is expected to grow by 11% from now until the year 2028. Considering that the median estimate for job demand across all occupational fields in the U.S. stands at 5% for the next 10 years, the outlook for medical coding and billing specialists is certainly encouraging. With regard to salary, the median annual earnings for health information technicians in 2018 was higher than $40,000; the highest-paid professionals in this field can earn up to $66,000 per year, more than double the national average in 2018.
Understanding Job Demand for Medical Coding Specialists
Getting back to the policy issue of healthcare reform, it is easier to understand the occupational outlook of medical coders in terms of demand. One of the concerns driving the push for reform is the aging trend of American demographics; this can be clearly observed in South Florida, a top retirement destination in the U.S. With higher demand for medical services looming, political leaders are understandably concerned about providing reasonable access to healthcare, and this is the reasoning behind proposals such as Medicare for All, a system that would virtually do away with many private insurance plans.
Even with universal or single-payer healthcare systems, the demand for medical coding specialists would not cease; in fact, it would likely increase. If anything, a monolithic health insurance program financially supported by the public and the government would require a more extensive analysis of costs and expenditures, a process that medical coding specialists currently perform at insurance companies, medical facilities, and government agencies.
What Medical Coding Specialists Do
Health information technicians do not engage in direct patient care; they may work under the supervision of physicians, nurses and health administrators at medical facilities, but their duties are clerical, technical and analytical. In essence, medical coders are in charge of managing health records and codifying diagnoses as well as procedures in accordance with the International Classification of Disease (ICD-9-CM). Quite a few medical coding specialists work directly with health insurers in the processing of claims and reimbursements; however, many others work in administrative or research capacities where their ICD-9-CM and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT-4) skills are essential.
The widespread implementation of electronic health records means that medical coding specialists are expected to perform their duties on databases. Moreover, some health information technicians cross over into medical records management, healthcare administration, cancer database research, and event programming.
Becoming a Medical Coding and Billing Specialist
Florida National University offers a medical coding specialist career education certificate program for prospective students interested in health information technology. Some of the course requirements in this 30-credit curriculum can be completed online, but FNU also offers classroom instruction at two campus locations in Miami and Hialeah. Completion of this program requires an externship.
If you have questions about your job prospects as a medical coding specialist, feel free to get in touch with our admissions counselors. FNU offers assistance to students who qualify for financial aid, and we also manage scholarship programs that you can apply for. As an established private university serving the South Florida community, FNU is properly accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and licensed by the Florida Department of Education.
Take the First Step Towards a Rewarding Career
The career opportunities you may encounter as a medical coding specialist can go beyond getting a job at the billing department of a local hospital. Should you choose to specialize in cancer database management by means of continuing education and certification, you may be able to work at research facilities. You can also further your education with FNU degree programs related to the medical or information technology fields.
FNU admissions counselors can tell you more about how you can enroll and complete the medical coding specialist program. Active duty military members, reservists, and veterans are welcome to inquire about this and other FNU programs. Contact us today and take that important first step towards becoming a health information technician.