One of the biggest draws in the medical coding field is the promise to work at home. While there are many promises of vast wealth and immense freedom many find it difficult to achieve such goals.
Remote medical coding jobs are legitimate, but they are also over advertised. Many target this field and make exaggerated claims. One common scam is the promise to offer medical coding education and provide medical coding software (for a price), which should “fully prepare you” to begin your own home based business.
This particular claim can be very detrimental to the investor. While a sketchy education and some software may be provided individuals find themselves searching for clients. Unfortunately, without the proper education and/or experience physician will not be willing to become a customer.
As with any career, one must choose to invest their time and money into a proper education and then be willing to take an entry level position and gain some on the job experience.
Proper education will fully prepare individuals for nationally recognized certification through either the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or through the American Health Information Association (AHIMA). The AAPC offers individuals to sit for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification and AHIMA offers individuals to sit for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) certification.
These two certifications are the only two nationally recognized certifications in the medical coding field. Employers will require that individuals hold either the CPC or CCS credential.
Once an individual has obtained one of these two certifications they must then find a job. Two year of coding experience is the industry standard and those who are starting out in this field may find gaining entry to their first coding job one of their biggest challenges.
When starting out individuals should consider several options. Joining a non-paid program like “Project X-tern” through the AAPC will provide experience and often job opportunities. Becoming involved in a local AAPC chapter is also a great way to network with local coders who may have internal positions they are willing to offer beginners. Entry level positions may also include front desk work in a private practice which may later allow a transition into the coding department.
Since home based medical coding positions are unsupervised individuals need to have some work related experience. Also, coding from home is often a “contract” position, which means you are technically self employed.
Companies that contract with coders provide them with the charts to code and the software needed to complete their duties, while coders must supply the computer, internet connection, and coding books.
Contract positions usually pay per.chart coded and require coders to maintain a high accuracy and bench rate. Contracts usually specify things like: number of chart to be provided/coded with in a week, number of hours a coder will work each week, bench rates, per. piece rate, and accuracy standards.
While contract positions do not usually offer medical benefits or vacation time they do allow flexible scheduling and savings on transportation and attire.
Another thing to consider when searching for a remote medical coding job is the tax status. Since individuals are technically self-employed in a contract position they must with hold their own taxes from each pay check. Instead of receiving a W-2 individuals will receive a 10-99, and they will need to file a 10-44 at the end of the year. Items such as coding books and other work supplies may be taken as a deduction when filing this form.
When searching for companies that offer remote medical coding jobs it is important to know that they are not often advertised. These positions are in high demand and are often filled by word of mouth and referrals before ever needing to advertise publicly.
To find such companies individuals should attend local AAPC chapter meetings and inquire among the attendees. Also, searching the internet for coding companies and then calling their operator or switch board and simply asking if they hire home based coders can return good results. Another helpful place to ask questions and search out such companies is the AAPC forums.
Internet search phrases like “work at home medical coding jobs” and “home based medical coding jobs” will not offer as many results as searching for phrases like “remote medical coding jobs” and “independent contracting medical coding jobs”.