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Medical Billing and Coding in Michigan

Medical coding recruitment has been in the forefront in recent years, in Michigan (http://www.traverseticker.com/story/are-you-a-medical-coder-you-re-hired) and around the nation. Most healthcare services require coding. Some of the work is quite complex. Medical coding is a task that can take a good deal more than keyboarding and customer service, though these skills may be important in the early career stages.

Third party certification organizations carry much of the responsibility for determining that professionals meet standards. Individual employers, though, determine what certifications are necessary.

Select a Michigan Medical Billing and Coding Topic:

Medical Billing and Coding Careers in Michigan

Medical coders may be hired directly by facilities or practices or by third parties. There are many different types of medical coding position. Some medical coders specialize in coding for particular types of health condition or medical unit. The distinction between inpatient hospital coding and physician’s office coding can be especially important; there are differences in code sets used to describe procedures and also (in many cases) differences in the level of proficiency it takes to extract pertinent information and code it accurately. In some cases, the employer will seek prior experience with a particular medical specialty or practice, for example, orthodontics. Medical coders go by various titles, which may reflect the setting or level of responsibility. The following are examples of positions that were posted in Michigan in early 2017:

  • HIM Coding Specialist I
  • Compliance Coding Specialist
  • Medical Coder Outpatient
  • Ophthalmology Biller/Coder
  • Pain Coding Specialist
  • Billing Specialist I, Clinical Trials
  • Prior Authorization Specialist/Certified Professional Coder

Many Michigan employers list high school graduation or equivalency as the minimum educational level. Some, though, state a preference for candidates with academic degrees. Facilities sometimes seek candidates with associate’s degrees in health information management. Accounting can be a desirable major for a medical biller.

Professionals who have a combination of coding certification and healthcare or business coursework may see good advancement opportunity. A recent example: Medical Group Revenue Cycle Manager. The hire was expected to have at least a year or two of business experience (and to hold one of the industry-leading medical coding certifications).

Occasionally, employers seek baccalaureate-educated candidates for advanced positions, for example, Compliance Coding Specialist.

Advanced job duties, combined with education and professional or expert-level certifications, can translate to higher salaries. The AAPC certifying agency surveyed its well-credentialed membership base and reported average earnings of $48,584 in the East North Central Region.

Medical Billing and Coding Education

A program may award a certificate or diploma; medical coding may also be offered as part of a degree program.

Coursework and educational level can be important for a person who seeks AHIMA certification. Degrees are required for health information management certification (RHIT, RHIA) but not for coding certification. A person who wants to test for one of the higher AHIMA certifications at career onset will need to pursue a formal program that meets AHIMA’s coursework standards. In many cases, the program will have official AHIMA approval. A coding certificate program may be offered in conjunction with a health information management degree.

AHIMA also recommends basic medical coding, medical terminology, and anatomy coursework for individuals who are testing for associate-level coding certification. At this level, though, post-secondary training is at candidate discretion.

A medical billing and coding program may include a discrete course in policies and regulations. There may be additional support courses such as medical computer skills. Some programs include online practicums where the student gets practice applying coding skills to medical records. The program may include an externship in an actual professional setting.

Many programs offer financial aid. Some individuals may qualify for assistance through Michigan Works! programs (https://www.cmich.edu/global/programs/profdev/miworks/Pages/default.aspx).

Certification Options

Coding positions very frequently note that certification is required. Billing positions sometimes do as well.Some employers simply state that the individual should be AHIMA- or AAPC-certified. Some list particular credentials; these are more likely to be professional or expert level. One will see occasional references, though, to credentials at the associate level.

Several AHIMA credentials are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).A person who seeks credentialing through AHIMA may take the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) examination or, if very well prepared, the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) or Certified Coding Specialist-Physician based (CCS-P) examination.

AAPC credentials are also well respected in the industry. A person who seeks AAPC certification will generally begin by taking the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) examination. An inexperienced professional will receive an apprentice designation upon passing. After the coder presents evidence of having met the AAPC’s experience requirement, the apprentice designation will be removed. The CPC is heavy on CPT procedural coding and is especially well suited for doctor’s office or practice settings.

In some cases, the individual will begin by taking an AAPC certification exam geared toward a different setting. Certified Outpatient Coder (COC) and Certified Coder-Payer (CPC-P) also have apprentice designations. The Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) does not. It is considered expert level, though, and new career professionals are advised not to attempt it. AAPC survey results indicate high average salaries for CICs

AHIMA coding examinations are self-scheduled through Pearson VUE. Candidates first apply to AHIMA (http://www.ahima.org/certification/exams?tabid=coding). AAPC certifications examinations are available through local chapters; candidates can search for upcoming examinations or request notification when there is an upcoming examination in their area (https://www.aapc.com/certification/locate-examination.aspx). Examinations are offered in many locations on at least an occasional basis. Among them are Bay City, Detroit, Flint, and Traverse City. Some local Michigan AAPC chapters hold CPC review classes.

Additional Resources

Michigan boasts 14 local AAPC chapters (https://www.aapc.com/localchapters/list-all-local-chapter.aspx). The following are among the topics that local chapters have slated for presentation in 2017.

  • ICD-10 Guidelines & Training (Ann Arbor)
  • Billing & Collection Updates (Bay City)
  • Medicare Appeals Process (Detroit)
  • Billing/ Coding for Workers' Compensation (Lansing)
  • HEDIS and Risk Adjustment (Macomb Township)

The Michigan Health Information Management Association is the local AHIMA chapter (http://www.mhima.org/).