How Much Money Can I Make Through Home-Based Medical Billing and Coding?
The benefits of working at home can seem innumerable. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you can send the kids to school, work for six hours, and go back to being a mom when the kids get home. Or you might thrive working your own hours. But while the benefits are plentiful, can you really make as much money working in your living room as you could in a traditional office setting? The answer to that is that it’s partially up to you, and partially up to the network of people you know who need medical billing services.
There are a few areas to consider if you’re interested in doing medical billing and coding at home. One point to keep in mind, especially if you’re newly trained and certified, is that even medical coders who work within the healthcare industry need about five years of experience to begin earning a substantial salary. If you’ve never had real experience coding, or have only worked for a few years, it is going to be difficult to find clients. Also, consider that your competition ñ outsourcing medical coding firms can generally offer lower rates because they are working with a much larger pool of clients. You may not be able to offer comparable rates.
Realize the Risk
Finding success in home-based medical billing is difficult, to say the least. So before quitting your job, think about the risk involved in being self-employed. You will need to bring in your own clients ñ they will no longer come to you. This means having a solid foundation of clients built from years of experience is essential. Another risk is the initial investment of starting your own business. Not only will you have the overhead expenses of setting up an office, advertising your services, and seeking out clients, you will also be paying more in taxes because you don’t have a company to pay part of your social security.
Additionally, you will be held fully accountable if any coding or billing is wrong. If the mistakes cause a serious problem, you could be sued. Healthcare providers need to have insurance to protect them from these types of lawsuits, but it comes at a very high cost. This means that even if you’re willing to assume the risks and costs, it can take a few years to begin earning a profit. Ask yourself if you can afford to wait that long when weighing your options.
Start Your Business
As of May 2010, medical records and health information technicians earn an average $30,610 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is mainly based on salaries of people who work in physicians’ offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and other organizations. The actual amount you will make doing home-based medical billing will determined in large part by the amount of time and energy that you want to put into your work.
The American Medical Billing Association offers a Medical Billing Starter Program designed to help those beginning home-based medical billing get off the ground. However, it takes more than medical billing experience to start your own consulting service. To make a living working from home, you have to put in the hours to be sure you will be profitable. This means networking with other professionals, getting your name in front of potential clients, and making sure you stay current with trends in the field. You should continue your training to make sure that you always know how to deliver clients the best product possible. Remember, with home-based medical billing, you are your own boss, so give yourself the tools to be the best employee you can be.
Yet, another work-from-home option exists. Although the major competition for self-employed medical billing and coding workers are large outsourcing companies that work for healthcare institutions, it is these same companies that hire contract workers to work from home. Aviacode is an example of a healthcare information and technology business that hires industry professionals to work from home. Remember, though, as a contract employee, you do not receive any benefits. Also, be aware of fraudulent companies who try to take advantage of workers seeking home-based positions. The Bureau of Consumer Protection offers some advice about avoiding fraud.
Assessing Your Hourly Rate Doing Medical Billing and Coding from Home
Generally, as a contractual employee, you will see that your hourly rate for medical billing and coding is higher than the rate paid by a hospital or health care institution in a salaried, on-site position. But will you actually be making more money working from home? The answer is probably not. Even though the hourly rate you’re paid in an on-site position may be lower, as a full-time employee, you will be getting valuable added benefits. These can include:
- Health insurance
- Long- and short-term disability insurance
- 401k or 401b savings plans
- Paid vacation and sick days
- Discounts for gyms, childcare, and other types of services
If you add these benefits to the hourly rate and adjust accordingly, you might see that working in an office setting pays more than working from home. Additionally, if there is ever an error on your part, you won’t be liable, as you would be if you were self-employed.
Your own unique circumstances may influence your decision about whether working from home is right for you. For instance, in two-income families, where one parent works in a job that provides healthcare and other benefits, it might make sense for the other parent to work from home ñ especially if it is a way to avoid childcare costs. However, be realistic in weighing the benefits and costs of doing medical billing and coding from home. This can help you make the right decision.