Demand for Medical Billers and Coders

Is There a Large Demand for Medical Billers and Coders?

There is high demand for medical billers and coders in today’s job market. Neither position explicitly requires a degree, but coding does require professional certification from the AAPC (previously known as the American Academy of Professional Coders) or certification provided by the American Health Information Management Association. The AAPC also offers a professional certificate in medical billing — a separate course from medical coding — on its website.

Job Outlook for Medical Billers and Coders

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of positions in the field of medical records and health information technicians — which includes medical billers and coders — will increase 13% between 2016 and 2026. This industry’s growth rate is faster than the national average for all occupations, and approximately 27,800 new positions will be added by 2026.

Factors contributing to this growth include an aging population, which will require additional health information technicians and other healthcare professionals. The AAPC publishes an annual salary survey in Coding Edge magazine every fall as an additional job-related resource. This survey provides an inside view of trends in the industry over the past year and looks forward to projected growth in the coming years.

Aspiring medical billers and coders should know that individuals who hold certification have better job prospects in this field. According to the AAPC, “increasing demands on providers with decreasing reimbursement requires healthcare offices to have highly skilled medical billers.” The AAPC’s 2016 salary survey indicates that professionals with credentials in the field — especially multiple certifications — can expect higher salaries.

  1. CPC Credential: $52,605 (a 1.9% increase from 2015)
  2. Two or More Credentials: $60,305 (a 3.3% increase from 2015)
  3. Three or More Credentials: $66,999 (a 2.1% increase from 2015)

Employment by Healthcare Setting and Location

Employment prospects in the healthcare field vary depending on the setting and geographical area in which you work. The BLS offers helpful information regarding the states and industries that hold the highest levels of employment for medical records and health information technicians.

States with the Highest Levels of Employment in this Occupation

  • California: 21,900 employed
  • Texas: 17,620 employed
  • Florida: 12,460 employed
  • New York: 9,590 employed
  • Ohio: 9,200 employed

Industries with the Highest Levels of Employment in this Occupation

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: 68,740 employed
  • Offices of Physicians: 38,530 employed
  • Nursing Care Facilities: 11,480 employed
  • Outpatient Care Facilities: 8,260 employed

The information above aligns with recent studies by the AAPC. In this industry, larger health systems can more readily grow staff numbers than smaller facilities. According to the AAPC’s 2016 salary survey, approximately 18.3% of respondents work for a large health system and 13.2% work for large group practices. Additional options for employment include educational institutions, consulting firms, and billing companies.

Increased Demand for Managers

Medical and health services managers typically need to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher to be competitive in the job market. Medical billers and coders who complete a bachelor’s or master’s program, and pass required certification exams, can advance into managerial positions. Accruing work experience in the field is also crucial in order to advance into a leadership position.

Most graduate programs, which typically take 2-3 years to complete, include supervised and hands-on training as part of the curriculum. This administrative experience, usually carried out in a hospital or healthcare consulting setting, helps prepare graduates for advanced positions. Medical and health services managers typically hold a degree in health administration, management, nursing, or business administration; it is important to consider these concentrations when evaluating degree programs.

According to the BLS, the employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026, leading to the creation of more than 70,000 new jobs. This growth rate is much faster than the national average for all industries and is primarily related to aging baby boomers living longer lives. From physicians to nursing care facility managers, a greater number of professionals and facilities will be needed to meet the projected demands of the elderly in the coming years.

ICD-10 Update

In 2015, healthcare professionals switched from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The latter version supports a greater number of data or codes and possesses a more detailed system that is easier for health organizations, providers, and insurance companies to use. As a result of this transition to a new platform, healthcare professionals should know how to work with both ICD-9 and ICD-10 in order to successfully transfer information and records.

In the industry, this overlapping of old and new platforms is referred to as “crosstalking.” At the time of the switch, the demand for medical billers and coders surged as healthcare facilities looked to hire more workers to make up for lost productivity as the industry adapted to ICD-10.

The increase in the nation’s aging population, combined with the recent implementation of ICD-10, created increased demand for medical billing and coding professionals. These workers help healthcare providers deal with the increasing number of patient encounters as well as the accompanying medical chart reviews needed to provide excellent care.