Medical coding is a process by which a medical diagnosis, test, or treatment is transformed from a verbal description into an alphanumeric sequence. Diseases and injuries may also be organized through a coding system. Medical coding began as a way to help classify the cause of death listed on a death certificate. Today, however, coding is an essential facet of the health care industry because it provides a common language for the recognition, identification, and treatment of medical problems. From doctors to researchers to health insurance companies, coding helps to organize medical data so that it can be analyzed quickly and easily.

In health insurance, medical coding works this way. When you are sick and go to the doctor, the doctor may order an X-ray. After reviewing your symptoms and the test, he or she tells you what's wrong and recommends a treatment. When your claim is submitted to your insurance company, the test, diagnosis, and treatment are all assigned codes that describe them. Without these codes, your insurance company would not know how to classify the medical services you received and so would not know whether to cover them, and to what degree.

The language used by providers and payers to communicate services performed, products provided, and the medical need for each. Coding provides universal definition and recognition of diagnoses, procedures, products, and levels of care.

Medical coders maintain patients' records using a universally recognized coding system (ICD-9 index) to ensure compliance with federal regulations and insurance requirements.

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