Author Topic: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?  (Read 2382 times)

happysoul

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Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« on: March 14, 2013, 04:15:21 AM »
I would like to start a career in medical billing or coding.  I don't know which of the two is better for me though.  I would prefer to work remotely and just visit my employer's/client's office once or twice a week.  In fact, a fully location independent job or business would be even better i.e. work from the beach in Thailand (or at least from my home in Thailand).

Should I go for coding or billing?  I have no previous medical experience just a strong web design/internet marketing/business background.

Thank you!!!! :)

RichardP

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 12:34:20 PM »

happysoul

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 10:03:51 PM »
Thank you Richard, I had already looked at that thread and other threads on this forum.  I would still be thankful  if someone could address my questions more directly.  Thank you.

Billergirlnyc

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 12:10:16 AM »
Whether you choose medical billing or medical coding you'll need experience. You can't even become a full coder in either AAPC or AHIMA (two main certification outfits) without at least 2 years experience working as a coder (actually coding), and they'll designate you as an "associate and or apprentice", until you gain that experience and they'll want proof. I believe if you take the prep courses (with both outfits) that reduces the requirement time to a year (or all together) but you'll need to double check this. I'm a coder but the details are vague for me, because I had experience, and had proof of it. After passing the coding test I had the CPC designation immediately. I wasn't a CPC-A (apprentice status via AAPC) or CCA (AHIMA's Associate status) which basically means you're still in training and don't have the 2 years experience that they require for the full designation. So, medical billing may be the "easier" one to transition into, but if you don't know what a biller does day to day, then you need to get the training. This could be accomplished in an office or via a course, preferable if you have both, because you'll have book knowledge and hands-on knowledge, which only makes you look sweeter to a potential employer (I think). My billing experience came from working for a few years in a multi-speciality group. A lot of billers I know who run their own companies started working for a doctor, but I know some who didn't, but these people worked in some other capacity in the medical field where they're at least familiar with the industry.

I don't know many doctors who are willing to hand over their billing to someone with no experience and allow them to work remotely (from home or a beach). I've been in business for several years and even I don't work from a beach, haha, not even when I'm on vacation. I do have people who WFH, but they're experienced billers and coders.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 10:59:30 AM by Billergirlnyc »
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RichardP

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 01:39:45 AM »
The single biggest takeaway from the links I pointed you to is this:  technology is driving doctors out of private practice and into doctor groups or retirement.  Experienced billers are being put out of work because of this.  You, who states that you know nothing about medicine, cannot hope to compete with experienced billers or coders who are looking for work.  There is not a more direct way to address your questions than that.  And that information was at those links I directed you to.  I think you either did not really read them for understanding (just skimmed them instead), or you truely did not understand what you read.

Plus there is this:  Both coders and billers need to understand ICD-9 codes in order to bill properly.  In about 18 months from now (October 2014) ICD-9 is going to be scrapped in favor of ICD-10.  If you are going to spend the next two years gaining experience, do it with ICD-10, not ICD-9.  Check out the links within these links:

http://www.icd10data.com/

Finally, this place has a definate anti-offshore-billing bias.  You say you have a home in Thailand, but don't say whether you live there or in the U.S.  If anyone here gets a whiff that you want to do offshore billing, you will get ignored big-time.


happysoul

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 05:29:09 AM »
Obviously my question implied that I would  start working remotely after having all certifications and 2 years of experience.  I am more interested in knowing if there are actual medical coders doing this remotely and having a location independent lifestyle.  When I talked about Thailand and the beach, I was just trying to be humorous.  My question has nothing to do with outsourcing to India but with the possibility of empowering American medical coders to work from some other place.  As you probably know, there is a wonderful world out there and not everyone wants to continue living in the old boring USA, some of us actually want to have a life.  Thank you.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 05:31:09 AM by happysoul »

PMRNC

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 08:25:52 AM »
I like the good old boring USA  ;D ;D  Sure we need some remodeling in Washington, but we'll get there :)

There is a big difference when someone says they want to WORK at home Work remotely. The first thing you need to do is decide how you want that. A physician who "employs" a remote "employee" GAINS nothing and in fact pays more (due to tax purposes, etc all equipment supplied has to come from them, they don't get to write off your services, etc)  BUT hiring an outside SERVICE is another ball game all together. The physician  will see a big savings.  Trying to find "employment" from a physician to work from home is about a one in 5000 chance, most doctors are not willing to take such a leap to hire someone to work from home, (especially with no experience) it's costly and it's risky. Hiring an outside billing/coding company would indeed be the more profitable and efficient way.   So with all that said you must first define how you want to do this. There are pro's and con's to starting a business too.   Just my two cents.
Linda Walker
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One Stop Resources, Education and Networking for Medical Billers
www.billerswebsite.com

Billergirlnyc

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 11:34:17 AM »
Obviously my question implied that I would  start working remotely after having all certifications and 2 years of experience.  I am more interested in knowing if there are actual medical coders doing this remotely and having a location independent lifestyle.  When I talked about Thailand and the beach, I was just trying to be humorous.  My question has nothing to do with outsourcing to India but with the possibility of empowering American medical coders to work from some other place.  As you probably know, there is a wonderful world out there and not everyone wants to continue living in the old boring USA, some of us actually want to have a life.  Thank you.

Actually, to me, it wasn't so obvious, thus why I addressed every aspect of your question. Perhaps if you had just asked "can a coder work remotely or from home" then some of the comments you received would've been omitted. But, let me state, I didn't think you were in another country, and I did get the humor, thus "haha" in my comment.  :)

What I've personally seen in the industry for coders who do work for someone else is they start out in an office setting and once there is trust established (as in they can do their jobs w/o issues) then they allow them to slowly work remotely - these are those who work as employees. The only coders I've seen working remotely outright as an employee are those who have tons of experience. I hire coders and they must past a test and have at least 5 years of verifiable coding experience in various modalities, and are on a weekly quota where they MUST code a certain amount of charts for me (my biz) a week, but again that's my requirement. I use video conferencing with them, they're live streamed into our meetings, etc. My office is set-up to work with my staff remotely if need be. I also have billers and coders who work in the office but I allow them to work from home 2x a week, but they're required to be in my office at least 3 days (like today, Friday, I'm still working from home and will stop by the office later). For the remote workers nothing really changes besides they're not in my actual office. Being able to work remotely will often depend on how the office you work for is set-up and if they allow it. But I don't see the ability to work remotely changing for experienced coders. There are companies who only offer coding service who hire coders to work remotely. I was actually contacted by a company who got my namer from someone asking me if I wanted a job with their company. They worked on medical research and needed coders to work remotely. So, yeah, once you get the experience, the ability to work remotely is there. It just all depends on the set-up of your employer. I think as the technology gets better you'll see this a lot more - IMO.

As far as taking a coding course and ICD-10: I believe AHIMA now teaches from the ICD-10 books (a very basic book), but it still uses the ICD-9 books for 2013 while teaching the course. I believe AAPC still teaches from ICD-9 2013 books and you'll have to take a separate course on ICD-10, check both their sites to confirm. But, I assure you, as a coder, knowing how to read ICD-9 will absolutely HELP you learn how to convert to ICD-10, because while ICD-10 has many differences from ICD-9, the new classification system retains the traditional format and many of the same characteristics and conventions, so it shouldn't be too difficult for an experienced coder or biller to transition into, and it will only help a coder in training to learn both, but even AHIMA doesn't seem to want to commit to fully teaching ICD-10 in their prep courses just yet, they seem to only touch the surface, but again confirm this. EVERYONE will have to train on ICD-10, but to say don't learn the ICD-9 book is bad advice - IMO. You could very well finish training (prep courses for coders) and get certification/licensed way before ICD-10 is implemented (October 1, 2014), and you'll STILL need to know ICD-9 until ICD-10 takes over, and I believe the tests are still using ICD-9 (again this is you're looking to get certification). There are so many online courses and boot camps that this shouldn't be a deterrence for you, if you decide to take a coding course. And while I don't think the implementation of ICD-10 will get pushed back, I'm always thinking about "what if it does". Get trained in both, because the certification organizations still test on ICD-9 from my understanding.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 11:54:44 AM by Billergirlnyc »
Don't worry. Be happy.
~Dalia, CPC, CPC-H, RHIT.

RichardP

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Re: Coding or billing? Can I work remotely?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 12:32:00 PM »
I did open the paragraph with this statement:

Both coders and billers need to understand ICD-9 codes in order to bill properly.  ...

But I do see how the rest of the paragraph could be interpreted to mean don't learn ICD-9.  I did not intend to say that.  Billergirlnyc expanded on what I was getting at.  Thanks for that.  The ICD-10 link I provided contains sub-links that will teach ICD-9 as you learn ICD-10.  If hs learns ICD-9 by way of learning ICD-10, he will be well positioned to sell his skills in helping organizations transition to ICD-10 when it happens.  That is what I was getting at in the previous post