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Frequently Asked Questions

What do the acronyms used in medical coding mean?

ICD-9 and ICD 10 International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (most commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) provides codes to classify diseases and a wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or disease. Under this system, every health condition can be assigned to a unique category and given a code, up to six characters long. Such categories can include a set of similar diseases.  https://www.cms.gov/ICD10/.  ICD-11 is planned for 2016.

CPT – Current Procedural Terminology.  CPT codes are numbers assigned to every task and service a medical practitioner may provide to a patient including medical, surgical and diagnostic services. They are then used by insurers to determine the amount of reimbursement that a practitioner will receive by an insurer. Since everyone uses the same codes to mean the same thing, they ensure uniformity.

HCPCS - Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System numbers, are the codes used by Medicare and monitored by CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They are based on the CPT Codes (Current Procedural Technology codes) developed by the American Medical Association.

HCPCS Codes are numbers assigned to every task and service a medical practitioner may provide to a Medicare patient including medical, surgical and diagnostic services. Since everyone uses the same codes to mean the same thing, they ensure uniformity. For example, no matter what doctor a Medicare patient visits for an allergy injection (code 95115) that doctor will be paid by Medicare the same amount another doctor in that same geographic region would be. There are two sets of codes. The first set, HCPCS Level I, are based on and identical to CPT codes.  Level II HCPCS codes are used by medical suppliers other than physicians, such as ambulance services or durable medical equipment. These are typically not costs that get passed through a physician's office so they must be dealt with by Medicare or Medicaid differently from the way a health insurance company would deal with them.

RHIA - Registered Health Information Administrator

What are the working conditions like for medical coders?

Many medical coders work in a typical office setting in cubicles with equipment such as computers, printers and telephones, generally in a healthcare facility or private agency. Most medical coding is now part of a larger Electronic Medical Records (EMR) that is belongs to each patient. Working hours may vary from a usual 40-hour workweek to part time schedules and in some cases the opportunity to work from home filing records electronically. You should verify these work schedule options with any employer prior to applying for work as a Medical Coder.

How much do medical coders earn?

Education, experience and industry certification play a big role in how much a medical insurance biller or coder earns.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2010, the median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $$35,100. The highest 10 percent earned more than $53,430.  http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292071.htm

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