Medical Coding Jobs to Grow as Healthcare Remains Unsettled

Medical Coding Jobs to Grow as Healthcare Remains Unsettled

Medical coding jobs will continue to expand as America’s healthcare evolves. Healthcare is reinventing itself, and that means certified medical coders are becoming more central to the success of the effort.

The reimbursement industry is changing from being based on pay-for-service to being based on the quality and efficacy of care. New data technologies, code sets, and regulations tug at the industry, forcing it to invent new ways of managing resources, from place of service to being paid. The foundation of Obamacare and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) permanently alters how patient care is tracked and reimbursed. As a result, certified medical coders are finding themselves in the hub of the rapid wheel of changes.

In 2013, the federal Bureau of Labor projected job growth for coders would be 21 percent by 2020, or 27,800 more positions from 2016 to 2026. By comparison, expectations for all professions, combined, is 7 percent by 2026. This trend reflects the broader role for medical coders and expanding opportunities.

In 2007, for example, AAPC had 60,000 members but counts 170,000 now—a nearly three-fold growth. As the nation slipped into recession in 2007, jobs were limited and the roles into which a credentialed coder fit were restricted by technology and pay for service model.

Sophisticated technology, new data tools, new requirements, and new regulations created more jobs for medical. By 2016, the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were more than 206,000 jobs for coders and other health information professionals.

Coders Role with the Punches

In the last decade, coders have helped their employers manage a major shift from an antiquated ICD-9-CM to ICD-10-CM code set, aided hospitals adopting the new ICD-10-PCS code set, assisted in the development and implementation of electronic health record (EHR) systems, investigated fraud and abuse, trained providers on sufficient documentation of patients’ care, accepted several new professional roles, and helped define the future of our healthcare delivery system.

For example, Risk Adjustment in the hospital industry generated a whole new job for medical coders, who sift through medical data to find differences between patient mixes that affect patient outcomes. Data is used to improve care and cut cost. Coders are finding new places in healthcare systems reviewing documentation and auditing claims. Some coders are helping providers and facilities report quality measures to payers while others are assuring compliance with HIPAA regulations for privacy. Others are helping companies such as 3M, EPIC, and Optum develop software and databases used by providers and hospitals.

Coders are finding jobs in surprising places, such as the following:

  • Billing companies
  • Law offices
  • Self-insured corporations
  • Military and Veteran Administration facilities
  • Insurers
  • Government agencies
  • Schools
  • Software developers
  • Consulting firms

And many coders are finding themselves working on the road, as they visit clients or while enjoying a mobile lifestyle.

Filling the Coding Ranks

Medical coding will need more than 28,000 new professionals to meet the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projections. A quarter of AAPC’s membership is 51 or older, and more Baby Boomers are choosing to retire each day. The jobs they leave will remain as medical coders become more integral to the success of our healthcare system.

AAPC offers many online programs for certified medical coding training. AAPC offers the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) for physician coding, and other credentials for inpatient and outpatient hospital coding, risk adjustment coding, along with credentials for medical billing, compliance, practice management, clinical documentation improvement, and auditing.

The organization hopes to fill the growing number of empty seats. Roles and responsibilities for medical coders will grow as the healthcare system remakes itself.

Brad Ericson

Brad Ericson

Director of Publishing at AAPC
Brad Ericson, MPC, CPC, COSC, has been director of publishing for more than 10 years. Before AAPC he was at Optum for 13 years and Aetna Health Plans prior to that. He has been writing and publishing about healthcare since 1979. He received his Bachelor's in Journalism from Idaho State University and his Master's of Professional Communication degree from Westminster College of Salt Lake City.
Brad Ericson

Latest posts by Brad Ericson (see all)

About Has 301 Posts

Brad Ericson, MPC, CPC, COSC, has been director of publishing for more than 10 years. Before AAPC he was at Optum for 13 years and Aetna Health Plans prior to that. He has been writing and publishing about healthcare since 1979. He received his Bachelor's in Journalism from Idaho State University and his Master's of Professional Communication degree from Westminster College of Salt Lake City.

7 Responses to “Medical Coding Jobs to Grow as Healthcare Remains Unsettled”

  1. Kathy says:

    What about jobs for the CPC-A? I removed one year of my apprenticeship through Practicode. I have one year to go to be a CPC.

  2. RC says:

    If the demand is so high, why is it so hard for newbies to get a position? EVERY job I see posted for this position (which are many in a large metro area with numerous hospitals/clinics) REQUIRE experience. How do we get that experience I f no one is willing to take us fresh out of school? This doesn’t add up…

  3. Gloria says:

    I am interested in learning more about the Certified professional biller certification.

  4. Diane Heim says:

    I appreciate this article. As a newly certified coder as of April, 2017, I am finding the market to be competetive as I have limited experience and am still searching for my fulltime position. I do, however have a temporary (8 week) Medical Office position to work beginning in March of this year. I am also working through the Practicode curriculum. Thanks for the information pertaining to the many different places where CPC’s are finding work.

  5. David Benton says:

    The problem I find,is unless you have 2 or more years of acute experience many companies don’t hire. Have seen postings with “not for CPC-A’s.” I am currently working for a billing company but not as a coder.

  6. Brad Ericson says:

    Hi RC,

    That’s a common question – not only in coding but in most professions. I started out in another career and ran into the same situation. Here’s the advice most experienced coders will tell you: Network. Study constantly. Specialize Get your foot in the door by taking a related job and jump at every opportunity. Think ahead and be invaluable in the job you’re in so that when you apply for that coding job, your boss will recommend you but be sad to see you go. Let everybody know that you want to do a coding-related job. And be willing to move to another place, if you have to.

    It works. That’s how I ended up doing coding for the last 25 years.

  7. Diane Belford says:

    Another problem is finding a job where you live. I can’t move anywhere as I am a care giver for my 71 year old mother who doesn’t drive. I have to take her to all of her appointments, and do the grocery shopping. Finding a coding job for a CPC-A is even more difficult for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *