Like any dedicated professional, most medical assistants (MAs) love the healthcare field and are deeply dedicated to their work. Naturally, after gaining experience, many MAs want to advance their careers. With the healthcare field being so broad, MAs have numerous options for specializing. One avenue they may explore is medical coding, which is also one of the fastest growing fields in healthcare.
So, for medical assistants looking to advance their careers, here’s why medical billing and coding is a great fit:
Medical Billing and Coding Skills Complement Medical Assistant Skills
For MAs who enjoy the technical details of their work, adding a billing and coding certification may be a natural way to advance their careers.
While a medical billing and coding job description is different from a MA’s formal job, many of the skills overlap. Where MAs perform a wide variety of tasks in a healthcare setting, billing and coding involves a set of activities focused on records, reimbursements and receipts.
Some MAs learn billing and coding as part of their initial career training. They may also be involved with coding procedures in their current jobs. A formal certification in medical billing and coding expands those activities.
Many MAs work with insurance companies on authorizations, patient referrals or approvals. Medical billing and coding specialists also work with insurance companies. But they focus on the documentation and financial transactions around patient care. Both sets of activities may involve negotiations, relationships and adjusting to meet an insurance company’s requirements.
While an MA’s work is far more patient-facing, billing and coding are crucial support activities that make the overall healthcare industry run smoothly.
Expanding Medical Assistant Career Possibilities
For MAs who enjoy the detail and precision of billing and coding, a certification can open entire new career opportunities. Billing and coding specialists are needed in a wide variety of healthcare-related settings.
The National Healthcareer Association, which administers the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) certification, says its members work in a wide variety of healthcare-related settings.
These may include “hospitals, physician offices, surgery centers, nursing homes, dental offices, home healthcare agencies, mental health facilities and even insurance companies and consulting firms.”
For those ready to leave the daily commute and office stress, billing and coding may offer a change of setting. Because billing and coding relies on computers, many specialists work from home. Some even operate their own home-based businesses.
Some also MAs found that billing and coding skills increased their market value. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that average salaries for medical billing and coding specialists are approximately 20-30 percent higher than that of Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs).
What Does a Billing and Coding Certification Involve?
For the experienced MA, learning billing and coding formalizes much of the knowledge used daily. Billing and coding certification courses generally feature entry requirements very similar to the education they originally needed to become MAs.
Billing and coding certification courses are conveniently available online and generally take 9-12 months to complete. To prepare for a billing and coding certification, the programs usually include courses that address:
- Medical billing and insurance
- Medical terminology
- Basic and advanced medical coding
- Electronic medical records
- Legal and ethical issues in medical billing and coding
Applying MA Skills to Billing and Coding Certification
Some MAs have found that their work experience applies directly to their billing and coding certification. In fact, their familiarity with procedures and terminology gives them a head start with certification.
MAs also commonly discover that their MA experience paves the way for their first billing and coding position. Their track record and professional connections help ensure employers that their skills match their certifications.
Our Medical Billing and Coding will help you expand your MA skills into a great a medical billing and coding career.
To start the enrollment process, give us a call at (855) 520-6806 or fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch immediately.