Career OverviewThe job of medical billing clerks is to compile and maintain records of fees for goods and services rendered at a health care facility. First the medical billing clerk calculates the total amount the patient is to be charged. Then the clerk prepares an invoice which is sent out for prompt payment. Medical billing clerks also have the major responsibility of contacting insurance companies to determine which goods and services are covered by insurance and for how much.
The majority of medical billing clerks work with sophisticated computer programs that permit them to calculate charges and make up invoices quickly and easily. These computer programs also perform as a type of safety net, because the medical billing clerk has to verify the information that is entered and correct any mistakes before the invoice is printed and forwarded to the patient. Other responsibilities of the medical billing clerk include handling follow-up questions from patients, resolving discrepancies, keeping a record of invoices that have been paid, and ensuring that all billing and accounting records are kept in a safe place.
The medical billing clerk might also be in charge of office purchase orders, hospital records, time sheets, charge slips, insurance claims forms and tax-related documents. He or she may be required to take care of records containing patients’ personal information and make sure such records are up to date on such data as phone numbers and residential addresses.
Unlike billing clerks in other places of business, medical billing clerks have to be familiar with diagnostic and insurance codes. They must know how to deal with patient complaints calmly, tactfully and politely. They must be comfortable working with people and always show a positive attitude. The medical billing clerk’s job requires a strong work ethic and a willingness to show initiative.
Career RequirementsA medical billing clerk must have strong reading, writing and mathematical skills and must be computer literate. High school students interested in this position should take courses in algebra, biology, computer skills, English, typing, data processing, and health occupations and medical professions education.
Some employers will take an applicant with only a high school diploma, but more and more are looking for people with post-secondary training. Many community colleges offer courses in medical billing. Medical billing clerks are expected to keep up to date with the newest computer programming used in the profession.
Job OutlookThe health services industry is the largest employer of billing clerks. Growth in the number of job opportunities for medical billing clerks is expected to be modest for the next decade. Health care facilities place great emphasis on getting bills out faster so payment will be made quickly, but advances in computer technology continue to simplify the billing process. Therefore fewer billing clerks are required to handle the workload.
Career TrackMedical billing clerks can rise from entry-level positions to positions of greater responsibility. Some become supervisors in charge of other billing clerks.
CompensationA medical billing clerk’s salary depends upon the clerk’s experience, geographic location and the financial situation of the employer. On average medical billing clerks have an annual income of $25,000 to $35,000.