Medical billers spend most of their time talking with various people (patients, health care providers, and insurance companies) about medical diagnoses and treatments, as well as about issues related to the billing and finance. To fulfill these roles, medical billers must have specialized knowledge and skills in three main areas: office skills and communications, medical terminology, and medical coding. Although all medical billing schools have slightly different curriculums, they should all cover these three main areas as well as offer a practicum, such as an internship or an externship, where students can gain hands-on experience working with billing and insurance documents.
Here are the main types of courses you can expect to take as part of a medical billing program.
Office Skills and Communications
Not all medical billing schools offer extensive training in office procedures and communications, but most offer at least one course in basic office skills, such as training in Microsoft Office, and one course in communications, such as Business English. Medical billers also learn how to navigate the realms of health insurance and billing, manage medical records, and use medical billing and coding software.
To communicate with health care providers and insurance companies, medical billers need to have a strong understanding of medical terminology. They may also take courses in basic anatomy and physiology and in pathology (the study of disease).
Medical codes make up the language insurance companies use to record diagnoses and treatments and to assess patients for coverage and reimbursement. There are well over 10,000 codes used in the current medical coding systems. Although medical billers don’t need to memorize all of these codes, they do need to be intimately familiar with them, especially the main categories and codes for common conditions. Learning about and working with medical codes constitutes a large part of a medical billing education.
Working with insurance companies and medical codes takes practice, and the goal of the practicum is to give students as much real-world experience as possible. When evaluating medical billing programs, make sure the ones you are considering have good internship or externship programs—even many online schools offer practicums. Many medical billing schools have partnerships with different doctors’ offices and hospitals so students can see what the job is like in different settings. Successfully completing a practicum is often required to get a job, and sometimes students are hired in the facility where they do their practicum.
As you explore the different medical billing schools in your area and online, keep these four major components in mind and look for programs that cover all of them sufficiently. By the time you have mastered the three content areas and completed your practicum, you will be all set to find a job as a medical biller.