Physicians’ offices and hospitals are introducing many changes in the ways they bill insurance. The need for individuals skilled in this venue has increased, and is expected to continue growing. Let’s take a look at why this is happening and what it means for you if you are interested in pursuing this career.
What is ICD-10?
Understanding what the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) entails is complex. It replaces the ICD-9 system that has been in use for years. Both systems code for a particular disease, along with modifiers for identification and billing purposes. The ICD-10 system lists more than 140,000 codes used for diagnosis, treatment, and procedures. Some codes are detailed, and finding the right code might be difficult. Doctors, already burdened by a complicated health care system, may find it difficult to easily find the right code. If the correct code remains unfound, the cost may revert back to the patient. Hiring individuals trained in this new system is important to making it run smoothly.
The codes are based on an official list originating with the World Health Organization. It is not dependent on a particular health care plan and has no link to the incorporation of the Affordable Care Act in the United States.
Readiness for the new ICD-10 implementation
Physician readiness for using the new system is lacking, according to the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange or WEDI. About 25 percent of physicians are not going to be ready, and possibly an additional 25 percent will not be acclimated. This may cause delays in using the new ICD-10 system, and many providers are looking to hire those trained in the new system.
Why is ICD-10 so difficult?
Part of the problem with the new coding is precision. While this might sound oversimplified or at odds with the delicate balance found in proper billing, it isn’t. For example, there are about 18 codes for a patient who ate a toxic mushroom that adequately describe the patient’s medical situation. Another example: looking at a fractured leg and properly coding it may mean choosing among dozens of codes to find the right one.
The ICD-10 coding employs more than 70,000 diagnostic codes, compared with 15,000 in ICD-9. Procedures done in the hospital will rise from 4,000 to 72,000. The transition from the old system and the sheer number of increased codes mean that both office and hospital billing will need people trained in ICD-10.
Increased training for ICD-10
Some schools have increased the amount of training for coding based on the new guidelines by providing ICD-10 courses. Those taking refresher courses are poised to take advantage of the need for billing personnel. Hospitals, health insurance plans, and physician and other health care professional offices will have a need for this skill. In addition, the work will become more demanding, and medical professionals who work with coding will be expected to pass a certification exam.
More job opportunities in 2016 for medical billing
Jobs in medical coding are expected to increase by 18 percent through 2016, according to the Department of Labor. Due to demand, experts believe many positions will be based on a 40-hour workweek with overtime. Salaries will range between $23,000 and $43,000 based on experience, geographical area, and whether the job is in a hospital or office.
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