Medical billers and coders play a very crucial role in health information technology. It is their job to ensure that patient data and information are recorded in a succinct and accurate manner while following established coding standards and guidelines.
Along with the intellectual acumen to become familiar with these codes, coders and billers need to be detail-oriented and calm under the pressure.
As a corollary of all of the skill sets one amasses as a medical biller and coder, it only makes sense that the salary is attractive enough to boot. In the coming sections we take an in-depth look at everything you need to know about a medical biller and coder’s salary and career outlook.
Medical Biller and Coder Job Outlook & Projection
First of all, it is worth mentioning that the field is a particularly attractive one with an existing demand that is sure to become even more pronounced in the near future. According to the bureau of labor statistics, there are already a handful of factors brewing that will catapult the increase in demand of medical billers and coders up to as high as 9% in the next eight years.
For context, the average for all other occupations combined during the same timeframe is only 8 percent.
The reasons for this projection are multiple-pronged. The key factors, however, include:
- An aging population - who will require a lot more medical services down the stretch, which will in turn necessitates the need for more medical records and more health information specialists to keep, maintain, verify and analyze these records.
- Medical Advancements - that continues to prolong our lifespan and consequently increase the need and volume of required medical care.
- Industrial Changes - which has seen the recognized coding systems (ICD-9) replaced by a more advanced one (ICD-10)
- Health Care Reforms - aimed at expanding the number of patients with access to health insurance, which in turn means more provision of health care services. And of course…
- The Existing Shortage of qualified medical coders and billers.
Medical Biller and Coder Median Annual Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for medical coding and billing is $46,660. Of course, this is just an average figure, and exact numbers tend to vary based on a handful of factors which we will discuss in detail further below.
It is worth mentioning, though, that health information technology is quite distinct from medical billing and coding, and even medical coders and billers perform somewhat distinct functions.
Coders, on average, tend to earn more than billers. Although thanks to the similar skill sets required to perform both functions, they are usually classified as being one and the same field.
Factors Affecting the Salary Range
As mentioned earlier, the figure for the annual average salary of a medical biller and coder is $46,660. Here are the factors that can skew this number one way or another.
One of the factors that play a notable role in how much you’ll earn as a medical coder and biller is your residential location. The variance in earning per location is sizable, and occurs for a number of reasons, the first of which is cost of living and population concentration of those who require professional medical attention.
Those who live in the West Coast tend to earn a higher salary range, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who live in the Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee region tend to earn the lowest.
While all billers and coders generally perform the same function and do the same work regardless of settings and work environment, this factor nonetheless creates significant variance when it comes to median salary ranges.
For instance, medical billers and coders may find themselves in a hospital setting, a physician-based setting, or even in an insurance agency. And according to data, those who find themselves in insurance agencies tend to earn more than the rest.
Those who work in medical and surgical hospitals fall around the mean, while physician-based workers earn the least of the three.
While certifications are generally not a mandatory prerequisite for medical billers and coders, it is no secret that these are things valued greatly by employers and organizations in the medical field. For this reason, those who possess advanced, specialized certifications appear more attractive to employers and consequently earn more than those who don’t.
Thankfully, regardless of the salary range you start with, obtaining certifications can help you boost your value and ensure that you get more salary down the line.
Pay structure is another thing that usually differs between medical coders and billers even though the job description remains the same. For instance, some billers and coders are paid on an hourly basis, while some are salaried employees.
Now unsurprisingly, those who work hourly, and can clock more than 40 hours every week, tend to earn more. This isn’t a very common scenario, however, and only arises when organizations are experiencing shortage of medical coders and billers and are willing to overcompensate to fill the gap.
Improving your Salary as a Medical Biller and Coder
No matter which end of the salary spectrum you find yourself in, it is always comforting to know that you can climb up the ranks by doing things the right way. How exactly do you do this? Well, the first is time.
With enough time, you will surely gain enough experience and be able to leverage that experience to earn more from your employers. Another thing that experience allows you to do is earn more certifications.
Advanced specialized certifications entitle you to a bigger salary, but some of them require a couple years of professional experience. Once this is out of the way, you can proceed to enroll for the exams and get yourself certified in no time.
For those who began their career with a postsecondary certificate, you can also increase your earning power significantly by improving to an associate degree or even a bachelor’s degree.