Medical Billing and Coding Salary

The massive health care industry in the U.S. is an economy unto itself. At the heart of this economic system of health service organizations, insurance companies, patients and physicians are medical billers and coders. Medical billing and coding professionals are on the ground-floor of this infrastructure, responsible keeping the health care system billing system moving effectively.

Medical billers and coders handle, manage and maintain patient information regarding diagnoses, procedures and more. They may work as liaisons between a physician's office and insurance companies or serve as the go-to medical records technician dealing with the coding of patient information for billing purposes.

Medical billing and coding salary information

Medical billing and coding is a specialized occupation, one that falls under a broader employment group of medical records and health information technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). Data from the BLS reveals the 2013 national median salary for that group was $34,970.

However, those figures are misleading as industry salary reports from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) reveals annual earnings may be higher than the BLS reports.

The AAPC releases an annual salary survey that highlights employment, salary and hiring trends within the industry at-large, and the 2013 report found the job market to be robust and growing -- especially in light of the national health care industry changes being triggered by the Affordable Care Act.

While annual wages slipped nationally from 2012 and 2013, they are greater than the figure reported by the BLS. According to the AAPC report, the national average salary for medical billers and coders was $46,847. Individuals with two or more years of experience earned 4.4 percent more than their counterparts, bringing home $48,925 in average salary in 2013. In turn, industry experience plays an integral role in increasing wages within the field over time.

Certifications and specializations impact earnings

The most revealing part of the AAPC salary report was the data showing how medical billing and coding certifications and specialization affected annual earnings. While there are several certification options, the AAPC -- by far -- offers the greatest number of certification avenues for medical billers and coders.

The AAPC, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, has more than 140,000 global members and offers four main professional certification options:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Professional Coder-Hospital Outpatient (CPC-H)
  • Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
  • Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P)

For coders with significant experience, the AAPC also offers 22 specialty certifications that span a spectrum of concentrations. Example certifications include Cardiology (CCC), Emergency Department (CEDC), Ambulatory Surgical Center (CASCC), Internal Medicine (CIMC), Obstetrics Gynecology (COBGC) and more.

Individuals holding specialized credentials earned an average salary of $53,489 in 2013, according to the AAPC report -- 14 percent more than those without credentials. The top five paying credentials included the following (with average salaries from the AAPC):

  • Certified Professional Compliance Officer ($69,138)
  • Certified Professional Biller ($61,667)
  • Certified Professional Medical Auditor ($61,115)
  • Certified Professional Practice Manager ($59,619)
  • Certified Professional Coder ($57,995)

Best paying states for medical coding and billing professionals

Location is another important factor that impacts earnings and the BLS lists Texas, California, Florida, New York and Illinois as the top paying states for medical records and health information technicians in 2013.

However, data from the AAPC groups states into regions, specifically for individuals within the billing and coding industry. The Pacific states of Washington, Oregon and California were the three states with the best wages for medical billers and coders, with other regions earning average annual wages in 2013 as follows.

  1. Pacific: $53,633
  2. Mid-Atlantic: $50,997
  3. New England: $50,349
  4. Mountain: $46,832
  5. West South Central: $46,518
  6. South Atlantic: $46,104
  7. East North Central: $44,816
  8. West North Central: $43,944
  9. East South Central: $43,059

Career outlook for medical billing and coding specialists

Unfortunately, the AAPC salary report does not track overall employment growth projections for the industry. Relying on BLS data, individuals working within the employment group of medical records and health information technicians should experience 22 percent job growth between 2012 and 2022.

The 10 states expected to see the greatest employment growth for medical records and health information technicians between 2012 and 2022 include:

  1. Utah: 32.9%
  2. Texas: 29.6%
  3. Louisiana: 28.8%
  4. Arizona: 28.2%
  5. Georgia: 27.1%
  6. Colorado: 27%
  7. Idaho: 25.1%
  8. Kentucky: 25.1%
  9. South Carolina: 23.5%
  10. Tennessee: 23.2%

Prospective medical and billers enjoy several educational paths -- diploma, certificate, and associate degree -- to receive the fundamental training to join the field. With growing job prospects and the potential to earn increasingly better annual salaries with post-secondary credentials and professional experience, this should be an attractive career option for today's students.

Sources:

AAPC, Medical Coding Certification, https://www.aapc.com/certification/medical-coding-certification.aspx

AAPC, 2013 Salary Report, http://news.aapc.com/index.php/2013/09/2013-salary-survey-coder-employment-on-the-rise/

AHIMA, CCS Certification, http://www.ahima.org/certification/CCS

AHIMA, CCSP Certification, http://www.ahima.org/certification/ccsp

American Medical Association, CPT Coding, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/solutions-managing-your-practice/coding-billing-insurance/cpt/cpt-process-faq/code-becomes-cpt.page

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013 Metropolitan Occupational and Wage Estimates - Idaho,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical Health Information Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, OES, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292071.htm

National Healthcareer Association, Billing and Coding Specialist Certification, http://www.nhanow.com/billing-coding.aspx

Projections Central, Idaho, ProjectionsCentral.com

AAPC, Coder Certifications, https://www.aapc.com/certification/specialty-credentials.aspx

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