general question for those of you employed as coders

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I apologize in advance if this is off topic.

I'm a recently certified coder with a CPC-A. I had a few questions about medical coding as a profession that I hoped someone might be able to help me with. I do not know any coders personally to ask.

All of my questions stem from my experiences with the AAPC externship program. All of the externships I've been able to speak to people about have not been for medical coding. One needed a customer service rep with knowledge of coding, one needed RN's with knowledge of coding for special projects, and another wanted a medical biller with knowledge of coding. So my question is, are there jobs for medical coders out there? Or do they have to do heavy phone work and just the occasional basic coding? The last externship I mentioned above was one that I was actually working at, but once they found out I did not want to be a biller (which included acting as collection agent and calling patients for payment), they let me go even though they were very impressed with my coding skills. It seems they didn't want an extern at all -- they wanted to train a coder (for free) for a billing position opening up.

All of this is very disheartening seeing as, though I am good at customer service, it really is low on the list of professions I wish to have. It is one of the things I'm trying to get away from and one of the reasons I chose to study medical coding. If any of you can share your experiences as coders, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you!
 

hperry10

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You have to start somewhere...

Many many coders start off in the positions you just described and many coding job involve some degree of billing. I spent 4.5 years doing billing for a behavioral health organization before I was able to land a coding/ billing job with my current employer. I'm hoping that the experience that I getting here will lead to a job that is all coding but that will take some time.


Heather CPC-A
 

lgarand

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Im a new coder too!

I am a CPC-A also. I feel the same exact way! I would even be willing to do all billing to start but how do we even get a billing job with no experience? I also have done 2 externships but haven't learned much! Seems they were looking for free help :(. I'm working on Practicode to get my A removed but it's gonna take a long time.
I know my post doesn't help you, but sometimes it feels a bit better if you know someone else is in the same boat.
Good luck!
Lisa
 

Pam Brooks

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If you think that a 'coding' job means working with your head down, assigning CPT codes and diagnostic codes all day long....then you are missing out on about 85% of other coding positions out there.

Coders are used in all areas of healthcare--from pre-registration, data analytics, denial management, billing, auditing, information systems and medical records analysis. Do not limit yourself, particularly if you are a brand new coder, to searching (and accepting) only a production coding position. There are precious few of those available for brand new coders and you also will limit yourself to just one small aspect of coding.

And don't turn your nose up at an externship where you're doing something that you might not want to do for now....at least you can get your foot in the door. It's likely that you were being evaluated as a potential future employee, and any opportunity to learn is a great opportunity. Nobody is going to spoon-feed you information and answers...you have to ask questions, show interest and take initiative. So if you didn't learn much, you may have to own some of that.

I worked for many, many years as a biller. The best coders were once billers, so unfortunately, you shot yourself in the foot by not continuing in the billing department. You'd have at least been employed when that coding position did open up, and as an internal candidate, you'd have had preference. Hopefully, you will have another opportunity to show you are a good employee and a candidate for a position in healthcare--from which you can move towards something more related to the coding you wish to do.

Good luck.
 

CodingKing

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Many beginning coders would kill for an opportunity like that to get some experience in and the A's knocked off. I would have kept going until I found a better position.

If you think that a 'coding' job means working with your head down, assigning CPT codes and diagnostic codes all day long

I think I'd want to jump out a window if I had to code charts all day long.
 

ErikAZ

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I agree with Pam above you should accept any opportunity available. Any experience you can get looks good on a resume and I've found over the years experience often isn't specifically related to a new job just something they want. Even with years experience any new place will have their own way of doing things.

Erik
 

ollielooya

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don't downplay the billing side while searching for your dream job...

Hi, just had to respond to this thread...

I too am a licensed coder, but got my start in the billing venue. I was ready and willing to take what I could to get into the profession, even if it meant not being able to work the task for what I was trained. I did NOT want to be a biller and chose the coding side of the business. As luck would have it, I was hired to be a biller. My mindset is that any tasks can be fun or a burden, and why not put forward positive energy into making what you do fun and enjoyable (even if stressful)? Sure, there will be aspects of any job that you might not like (following up on collections, etc). But remember.....good, accurate, attentive and tenacious billers can make or break a physician practice. They are undervalued in my opinion. These are the people who actually follow thru to see their physicians are paid. AND knowing the billing process will enhance your skillset when you finally are offered the opportunity to move into the coding side. I love my job and consider it thoroughly positive to watch the full reimbursement cycle! Billing will only increase your confidence factor in your coding later! Good luck as you to continue to pursue your career.

My two cents-
 

avon4117

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i agree with Pam..I did billing for 20 years before I became a certified coder. The two really go hand in hand.
 

CELADYBUG13

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I agree with Pam as well. Working in a billing department and learning the process can really help you once you do land a job in coding. Most coders I know who are really good coders have billing experience. Good Luck!
 

saracpm

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I am in the process of transitioning the billing department at the practice where I work so that certified coders do the coding and billing. I have found that when someone is not trained in coding unless they have years of experience they do not understand why claims are being denied and have a hard time figuring out how to correct rejected claims. I have found the billers end up going to the coders several times a day/week with questions related to coding. I really feel like coders should be able to work all aspects of the billing department including collections and processing denials and rejected claims.
 
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If you think that a 'coding' job means working with your head down, assigning CPT codes and diagnostic codes all day long....then you are missing out on about 85% of other coding positions out there.

Coders are used in all areas of healthcare--from pre-registration, data analytics, denial management, billing, auditing, information systems and medical records analysis. Do not limit yourself, particularly if you are a brand new coder, to searching (and accepting) only a production coding position. There are precious few of those available for brand new coders and you also will limit yourself to just one small aspect of coding.

And don't turn your nose up at an externship where you're doing something that you might not want to do for now....at least you can get your foot in the door. It's likely that you were being evaluated as a potential future employee, and any opportunity to learn is a great opportunity. Nobody is going to spoon-feed you information and answers...you have to ask questions, show interest and take initiative. So if you didn't learn much, you may have to own some of that.

I worked for many, many years as a biller. The best coders were once billers, so unfortunately, you shot yourself in the foot by not continuing in the billing department. You'd have at least been employed when that coding position did open up, and as an internal candidate, you'd have had preference. Hopefully, you will have another opportunity to show you are a good employee and a candidate for a position in healthcare--from which you can move towards something more related to the coding you wish to do.

Good luck.


I have to say this that a lot of coders do not know the relevance of been a coder,as she pointed out, coders are used in all areas of health care, billing , pre registration, claims, EMR Analysis etc,. it all depends on what level of accuracy a facility is keen on achieving. Personally, i finished my training in august not had my CPC yet but i applied for jobs and i was able to get myself interviewed i was so keen on starting this career, i was lucky to pass the exam for my interview and that was it, and will be taking my CPC Exam tomorrow. my duty is basically on the EMR, Updating physicians report and making sure all specific codes are are entered in the EMR for every diagnosis documented by the physicians.it is so interesting as on your identity card you are regarded as a medical coder. There are other medical coders in my facility who are doing claims also.This all depends on what a facility wants. ..As a coder i feel billing is the right part to choose, this is because most of the claim, approval staffs do not have training on coding, they make use of google to get this codes, and most times this is what leads to denials. Try checking job advertisement you should get a glimpse of the different names a coder is referred, that is based on what a facility wants. I guess you should reconsider your offer..GOODLUCK
BLESSING
 
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question

Did you have to do collections work? Did you have to call patients directly to get money? I'm just curious if this is part of the billing job description. I don't have any trouble with what I thought billing was -- dealing with insurance companies and other types of businesses in that genre.

I am in the process of transitioning the billing department at the practice where I work so that certified coders do the coding and billing. I have found that when someone is not trained in coding unless they have years of experience they do not understand why claims are being denied and have a hard time figuring out how to correct rejected claims. I have found the billers end up going to the coders several times a day/week with questions related to coding. I really feel like coders should be able to work all aspects of the billing department including collections and processing denials and rejected claims.
 
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question

Did you have to do collections work? Did you have to call patients directly to get money? I'm just curious if this is part of the billing job description. I don't have any trouble with what I thought billing was -- dealing with insurance companies and other types of businesses in that genre.


If you think that a 'coding' job means working with your head down, assigning CPT codes and diagnostic codes all day long....then you are missing out on about 85% of other coding positions out there.

Coders are used in all areas of healthcare--from pre-registration, data analytics, denial management, billing, auditing, information systems and medical records analysis. Do not limit yourself, particularly if you are a brand new coder, to searching (and accepting) only a production coding position. There are precious few of those available for brand new coders and you also will limit yourself to just one small aspect of coding.

And don't turn your nose up at an externship where you're doing something that you might not want to do for now....at least you can get your foot in the door. It's likely that you were being evaluated as a potential future employee, and any opportunity to learn is a great opportunity. Nobody is going to spoon-feed you information and answers...you have to ask questions, show interest and take initiative. So if you didn't learn much, you may have to own some of that.

I worked for many, many years as a biller. The best coders were once billers, so unfortunately, you shot yourself in the foot by not continuing in the billing department. You'd have at least been employed when that coding position did open up, and as an internal candidate, you'd have had preference. Hopefully, you will have another opportunity to show you are a good employee and a candidate for a position in healthcare--from which you can move towards something more related to the coding you wish to do.

Good luck.
 
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Thank you to all of you who got back to me. What most of you overlooked was the fact that I did not want to do COLLECTIONS (from patients), not that I had trouble with billing. I'm sure you all would be happy to take a job that makes you miserable if it can get you on to something better in a few years, but I really don't see a need to do that. I will look into learning about billing since it's something it looks like I'll need (which is, BTW, NEVER mentioned to people being sold the coding course). The place I was externing at did not do any coding -- they confirmed diagnosis codes provided by a computer program. And I was perfectly willing to stay at the externship for 3 months, but they refused to keep me on because they were looking to hire (for a job I was not interested in -- COLLECTIONS) not looking to teach. I know most of you won't see this since I'm replying to my own post - LOL - but I just had to get that out there.
 

CodingKing

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No pain, no gain comes to mind :) I did my years dealing with patients in a call center even though I hated it so much I got phone anxiety. Well I stuck with it and moved on to bigger and better things :)
 

cindyhovi

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Thank you to all of you who got back to me. What most of you overlooked was the fact that I did not want to do COLLECTIONS (from patients), not that I had trouble with billing. I'm sure you all would be happy to take a job that makes you miserable if it can get you on to something better in a few years, but I really don't see a need to do that. I will look into learning about billing since it's something it looks like I'll need (which is, BTW, NEVER mentioned to people being sold the coding course). The place I was externing at did not do any coding -- they confirmed diagnosis codes provided by a computer program. And I was perfectly willing to stay at the externship for 3 months, but they refused to keep me on because they were looking to hire (for a job I was not interested in -- COLLECTIONS) not looking to teach. I know most of you won't see this since I'm replying to my own post - LOL - but I just had to get that out there.

I have a bit of a different take on this. It doesn't matter what you have to do to get your foot in the door. It is a rare bird that loves collections but it is what pays the bills. Collections is part of the revenue cycle and that's the arena we went to school to work in. Coders do a bunch of different things. You don't start as a remote coder or a HIM manager. You start as a biller or a collector or registration or front desk or whatever it takes.

I just got my CPC-A and my CCS in November. My first part-time job (like an externship) while I am finishing my Associate's for the RHIT is billing and collections. Tomorrow I will be calling people who haven't paid their bills and insurance companies about dirty claims. It's part of the gig. But I am doing a great job for this guy. I have really worked hard on bringing his billing processes into a more efficient process. My reference should be stellar when I go to look for full time next summer. Would I do it for free for three months with the promise of a full time job, even if it was in collections? Oh yes! A job is a job until you have experience.
 

lgarand

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Thank you to all of you who got back to me. What most of you overlooked was the fact that I did not want to do COLLECTIONS (from patients), not that I had trouble with billing. I'm sure you all would be happy to take a job that makes you miserable if it can get you on to something better in a few years, but I really don't see a need to do that. I will look into learning about billing since it's something it looks like I'll need (which is, BTW, NEVER mentioned to people being sold the coding course). The place I was externing at did not do any coding -- they confirmed diagnosis codes provided by a computer program. And I was perfectly willing to stay at the externship for 3 months, but they refused to keep me on because they were looking to hire (for a job I was not interested in -- COLLECTIONS) not looking to teach. I know most of you won't see this since I'm replying to my own post - LOL - but I just had to get that out there.

I again feel the same as you. Especially the part where you said "I will look into learning about billing since it's something it looks like I'll need (which is, BTW, NEVER mentioned to people being sold the coding course)". Maybe I would've taken their billing certification course first and then after working in billing for a while I would move to coding. But I just spent a lot of money on the CPC course and can't afford more classes. So, now I am a certified coder with NO billing experience. I work four days per week (in a different medical field ) because I need to pay bills. I am working on Practicode on my one day off to remove my "A". Should I be using this time at a billing externship instead?
 

lgarand

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If you think that a 'coding' job means working with your head down, assigning CPT codes and diagnostic codes all day long....then you are missing out on about 85% of other coding positions out there.

Coders are used in all areas of healthcare--from pre-registration, data analytics, denial management, billing, auditing, information systems and medical records analysis. Do not limit yourself, particularly if you are a brand new coder, to searching (and accepting) only a production coding position. There are precious few of those available for brand new coders and you also will limit yourself to just one small aspect of coding.

And don't turn your nose up at an externship where you're doing something that you might not want to do for now....at least you can get your foot in the door. It's likely that you were being evaluated as a potential future employee, and any opportunity to learn is a great opportunity. Nobody is going to spoon-feed you information and answers...you have to ask questions, show interest and take initiative. So if you didn't learn much, you may have to own some of that.

I worked for many, many years as a biller. The best coders were once billers, so unfortunately, you shot yourself in the foot by not continuing in the billing department. You'd have at least been employed when that coding position did open up, and as an internal candidate, you'd have had preference. Hopefully, you will have another opportunity to show you are a good employee and a candidate for a position in healthcare--from which you can move towards something more related to the coding you wish to do.

Good luck.

Pam, Were you replying to me or to the original poster? I am working on Practicode (sold to me in a package with the online course) to remove my "A". Should I be spending my one day off working on Practicode or should I be looking for an Externship?? It seems I didn't quite understand all of this when I signed up for the AAPC course. I only have a year (May 2017) to finish practicode.
Thanks for your input!
Lisa
 
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My two bits

OP clarified that they were talking about collections, not billing, as the thing they didn't want to do, but I wanted to add to the discussion re: billing before coding. I am the unicorn that got a job coding, and only coding, from day one (well, after an externship that gave me just enough info to BS my way through an interview). I have found myself at a tremendous disadvantage compared to other coders who come from a billing background. I barely understood how insurance works when I first started, and was hopeless at assisting with denial management. I'm very grateful that I was able to get the position, but I was unprepared for that particular learning curve. So, by all means, go for the coding jobs if you can get them, but don't turn your nose up at billing. Almost any experience will be valuable in the end.
 

avon4117

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patient collections is a BIG part of the billing process. And it's not hardcore..you leave that to the collection agencies. I love working with patients on their accounts...its actually gratifying. I would say 50% of patient collections is insurance responsibility. From cob update to incorrect id numbers, etc. If you can't do patient collections then you shouldn't be a medical biller..simple as that.
 
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jentaylor07

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Same boat!

THANK YOU @skeens_leap for that post. I am in the same boat...getting my coding certification in and effort to get away from customer service. I have also become disheartened at this process. I spend months trying to gain more information about coding and how to get started and all I got was "yeah, it's a great certification to have", "you can get certified online", "the pay is great", "yada yada"...
Once I committed and signed up, I've begun to see that the only jobs available for coders require you to already have several years of experience in the field aside from certification. I feel that getting certified might have been something to do after starting out in medical billing and gaining some time under my belt - and then get certified (would help in understanding the course, as well). However, I had no knowledge of the process and when I called AAPC to ask about it, they didn't give me much information to guide me through the process other than how to sign up for the course.
Feeling very discouraged. Seeing the responses to your post is helpful!
 

DFlemings

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I agree with Pam. Most beginning coding positions start with other duties such as charge posting, billing functions etc. Pam above is right; some of
the best coders have billing experience as well. To have an employee whom can be versatile is what employers are looking for. You will be glad you
did in the end. I personally think that the more skills you have, the more beneficial it will be to the company. All of this will take some time as it does not happen over night. Eventually, with all of your experience in various areas, employers will be seeking you out!
 
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