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Medical Coding Specialist

Medical coding specialists read and review medical documentation provided by physicians and other health care providers in order to obtain detailed information regarding their disease, injuries, surgical operations, and other procedures. This detailed information is translated into numeric codes. The coding specialist assigns and sequences diagnostic and procedural codes using a universally recognized coding system. Using this official classification system, coders must insure correct code selection for compliance with federal regulation and insurance requirements. These medical codes are used extensively for reimbursement of hospital and physician claims for Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance payments. The information compiled by the medical coders is used to prepare statistical reports for use by clinic and hospital administrators for planning, marketing, and other management purposes. Local, state, and federal governments also use this information to identify health care concerns critical to the public at large. Knowledge of both the medical and business sides of health care are essential in this detail-oriented field of health information management.

Salary Range:
Average Annual Salary--$33,000
Salary Range--$20,000-$36,000

Work Environment:
Medical coding specialist work in hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, long-term care facilities, insurance companies, dental offices, home health care agencies, consulting firms, coding and billing services, and government agencies. They typically work under the supervision of the Health Information Manager or Chief Financial Officer.

Career Outlook:
There is an outstanding future for medical coding specialists because of the increased scrutiny over medical records by the government and insurance companies. In an effort to control costs, complete and accurate records are becoming a necessity in order for hospitals and clinics to receive money from Medicare and Medicaid. As technology changes the world of medical records keeping, there will be an increased need for coders with the most current knowledge of new technologies. As in most occupations, many openings will result from the need to replace employees who transfer to other companies, retire, or stop working for various other reasons.