Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable[ Edited ]
03-03-2012 10:45 PM - edited 03-03-2012 10:45 PM
Yeah - no kidding. My wife wants to take out student loans to start a career in medical billing and coding, but I'm not sure this career will yeild a good ROI.
Hey, just my perspective: I am a medical coder, no billing. I have a two-year degree from a community college in Health Information Technology, in a program that is accredited by AHIMA. (IMO, that part is important.) It was from a state-supported school, not a for-profit school. (IMO, that was also important, probably way more important than the first. I am VERY skeptical about most for-profit schools.) Most graduates from "medical coding/ billing" programs go to work for doctors' practices, and the pay is much lower than that earned by graduates of two-year AHIMA-accredited programs. Yes, there are absolutely exceptions, but they are exceptions. If she can't find an AHIMA-related school, she should at a minimum find a local chapter of AAPC and get plugged into their exam-prep groups.
I'm currently making $40K+ base pay, and way more than that adjusted for locality pay, working for the VA. If you are doing hospital coding, it's an incredibly complex field, requiring knowledge of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacy, current medical and surgical procedures, and a ton of legal stuff dealing with all this. (Outpatient coding can be equally complex, although in different ways.) If you get the right training, the type that's tough to get sometimes, AND you can get placed into a hospital job for entry-level pay, you can do very well. My $40K+ plus locality will jump up to the mid-fifties plus locality pay next year (winding up around $68K total), because I deal with compliance, so I'm up to my eyeballs in a lot of legal and financial detail stuff. For those who go on beyond my level, running hospital health information/ medical records departments, for instance, the salary range can go to $100K and beyond. But again, we're talking about (sorry!) real degrees from real schools to get that kind of money, generally bachelors degrees and masters.
All that being said, I would be cautious of local for-profit schools with one-year programs in "medical coding and billing." IMO, that's just not enough classroom time for understanding what you're reading in the medical record and turning into coding that will stand up in a courtroom when necessary. Also, it's really important to get real-world (not just what the recruiter tells you) feedback on the program's success rate in job placement. This particular field is as bad if not worse than any in needing to get experience so that you can get experience. In other words, it's really, really tough to get that first job, because you have to be so accurate that many employers don't want to take on the risk of hiring a new graduate.
But if your wife can find the right school and the right hiring environment, it can be a wonderful field.
Please tell her that if she's interested, she can pm me (click the envelope above on the right) if she wants to chat about her options.
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