Wiki Advice on contract coding?


Napoleon, ND
Best answers
I would love any advice or information on experiences in contract coding.

I left my stable, secure postion to take up remote contract coding. The money was enticing for me. I've only been doing this for 2 weeks, but so far it has been a horrible experience. :eek:

I would love to hear from others who have tried this, or are working as contract coders.

My former position is still open, and they would welcome me back. Part of me is saying the money is not worth it and I should take my job back while I still can, and another part of me is saying I have not given it long enough. I don't know what to do!?! :confused:
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I would go back to your old job, because the contract job is only temporary which means the money is temporary then you will be without a job.
There is no stabilty being a contractor, plus some agencies do not offer health benefits. I would get back old job and use remote as an second income if you are able to. Most of my remote work last for couple months and then is down time, never know when work will start back again ( never know when agent will have another contract).
I have not had good luck with contracts. As a previous poster mentioned, it is usually unreliable work with sudden down time. True contract work you have to pay your own taxes (which is a pain), they do not provide any benefits and a lot of them a pay per chart, which can be enticing, but it only works out if you do not have difficult charts or if there are constant charts to be worked.

I now have my full time job and work some remote work on the side. Lesson learned.

Cordelia, CCS, CPC
Sounds like you will have work once the contract ends per your previous response. What's the issue? Lack of training, system downtime? These two have been my stumbling blocks and were ironed out by my managers with the client. The big issue with remote coding is communication with all parties involved. Let them know if you are experiencing system issues or the training was not clear. Sometimes, you will have a learning curve with the policies/procedures of the client company and what you used to do at your former employer for a former contract. Once these obstacles get removed, you should be able to do your work. Remote coding can be challenging as you call on many skillsets to do the job. Give it a month--you'll know if you are getting better or need to go back to your old employer within that time period. Best of luck--

Debbie K
I would go back to the old job and keep the remote work on the side. I have worked as a contractual employee for 4 years myself and was shocked when our contract ended.

Be patient with your remote work, I am sure it will get better overtime :)
If you code really fast you can make good money but the reality is, documentation is not always easy to decipher and you end up making a whole lot less than what you are used to getting paid.
I would go back to the other job and perhaps keep this job as part time.
Thank you for all of the great responses. I have some decisions to make.

@dkaz1: The main issue was a delay in locking down a contract. Then there was a lot of downtime in setting up access and getting the proper software, which was a train wreck. In all, I had two weeks of downtime. I did spend many hours on the phone with various help desks and in conference calls, however this was not reimbursed. My recruiter previously reassured me that delays/lack of work would be very unlikely with my skill set, as this was a concern of mine. So I was not prepared for this right of the bat. If I decide to continue in this, I will plan ahead for these situations. Yes, there was very little training. These hospitals are so busy dealing with backlogs, so I somewhat expected that.
The most difficult lesson for me in remote coding was expectations and limits. Working from home sounded very freeing and independent, plus who wouldn't want to code at 2am when insomnia struck? I ended up finding it to be very isolating. Then I started agreeing to watch children on snow days, etc.. pretty soon I was getting calls to pick up sick kids at school, etc. You get the picture. I had all the operations nightmares you speak of and then some. I found that if I had a few different sources of work I was less likely to get bored or lack work. I used different sources for remote coding and ended up branching off a little into chart auditing and physician education. You never know where one path will lead until you take a walk on it.

All that being said - I am happiest working from home and being an independent contractor. One all the kinks were worked out of the specific client's electronic issues, another one starts but I just expect it now. It's not for everyone. I think the most important decision-making has to be about what you want for yourself and what environment you are most productive in. Either place has pros and cons. How you value each will lead you in the right direction.

Good luck.
I agree with all that is said. I have done both and continue to do both. i work full time at a hospital and then do contract work at home. I love the extra income. I did work from home only for about 3 years and loved it. But no benefits got to be too much. No vacation time. Good luck and all will work out.
Thank you all! :) I worked remotely for 7 years in with my previous job. While it did take some getting used to, and there are pros and cons of remote work... I love it! I think I might try to work with another contracting company. I could work one company part time and the other full time. That will give me a good idea if staffing and benefits are better at one or the other! It would help fill in any gaps if there is down time between assignments, And the extra income would be nice as well! I'm used to doing overtime in the past, and it's not bad when you love what you do!
As you can see, there are many aspects of this work that people like and dislike. What specifics of the contract are "horrible"? That will help determine if you should stick with it and work out the kinks, or go back to your former job.

I dislike the 'feast or famine" of freelance work and the "everything is urgent" mentality of new contracts, but I dislike even more working in a corporate structure with all its baggage and politics. I love the freedom and flexibility and, most of all, the ability to have a mobile career. Freelancing can get isolating if you let it, or if you spend a lot of time at work socializing, but I've learned how to deal with that aspect.

No job is perfect and, for me, the pros of freelancing outweigh the cons. But it's a very personal decision that each of us has to make.
Contract coding expectations

It more depends on your reasons for changing from a steady position to this new role. Maybe you need to revisit your reasons for changing vs. what your expectations were? There are a few remote positions I've seen on Indeed that provide job security as an employee. I don't think contract work is bad and it is what I'm looking to do when I retire from FT work in a few short years, as long as your expectations are met. If not you may need to make a change and having worked in this new role for only 2 weeks is not enough time to make an informed decision.
Charge for coding

Hi all.

Seems that some of you have experience coding on a contract basis.

I have been offered an opportunity to do some remote coding on a contract basis for an orthopedic surgery group.

They want to pay $5.00 per case.

I think that $5.00 per case is extremely low, considering that one of the surgeons does the spine and the reimbursement on a "clean claim" will be in the thousands.

How much should I charge?

Thanks for your reply.