Medical billers and coders play a very crucial role in health information technology. Their job is to record patient data and information concisely and accurately while following established coding standards and guidelines.
Along with the intellectual acumen to become familiar with these codes, coders, and billers must be detail-oriented and calm under pressure.
As a result 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 look in-depth 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 beautiful, with an existing demand sure to become even more pronounced shortly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a handful of factors are brewing that will catapult the increase in demand for 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 - will require a lot more medical services down the stretch, which will necessitate more medical records and more health information specialists to keep, maintain, verify, and analyze these records.
- Medical Advancements - continue to prolong our lifespan and 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 medical coding and billing salary 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 further below.
Health information technology is distinct from medical billing and coding; even medical coders and billers perform somewhat different 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 the same field.
Factors Affecting the Salary Range
As mentioned earlier, 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 factor that plays a notable role in how much you’ll earn as a medical coder and biller is your residential location. The variance in earnings per location is sizable. It occurs for several reasons; the first is the cost of living and population concentration of those who require professional medical attention.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who live on the West Coast tend to earn a higher salary range. Those who live in the Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee regions tend to make 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 creates significant variance regarding 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 in insurance agencies tend to earn more than the rest.
Those working in medical and surgical hospitals fall around the mean, while physician-based workers earn the least.
While certifications are generally not a mandatory prerequisite for medical billers and coders, it is no secret that employers and organizations significantly value them in the medical field. For this reason, those who possess advanced, specialized certifications appear more attractive to employers and 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 you get more salary.
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 hourly, while some are salaried employees.
Unsurprisingly, those who work hourly and can clock more than 40 hours weekly tend to earn more. However, this is a rare scenario and only arises when organizations are experiencing a shortage of medical coders and billers 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 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 make more certifications.
Advanced specialized certifications entitle you to a bigger salary, but some require a couple of years of professional experience. Once this is out, you can enroll for the exams and get yourself certified quickly.
Those who began their career with a postsecondary certificate can also increase their earning power significantly by improving to an associate degree or even a bachelor’s degree.