The medical administrative assistant and medical billing and coding professions are both vital to the healthcare industry. But what exactly is the difference between these two roles? Let’s take a closer look.
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A medical administrative assistant is responsible for providing administrative support to a medical office. They handle tasks such as scheduling appointments, maintaining records, and billing patients. A medical billing and coding specialist is responsible for coding patient medical records and submitting insurance claims. They may also be responsible for billing patients directly.
The duties of a medical administrative assistant and a medical billing and coding specialist are similar in some ways, but there are important differences. Both positions work in the office of a health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. Both positions may perform administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, answering phones, and handling correspondence. However, the medical billing and coding specialist also codes patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes. This may involve using specialized computer software to convert diagnosis and treatment codes into the correct format for insurance claims. The medical administrative assistant may also be responsible for Electronic Health Record (EHR) maintenance, which requires some knowledge of coding structure.
To become a medical administrative assistant, you will need at least a high school diploma, although some jobs may require postsecondary education, and you will need to complete a brief period of on-the-job training. To become a medical billing and coding specialist, you will need to complete a postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree program in Medical Billing and coding.
The median annual salary for medical administrative assistants was $34,540 in May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual salary for medical billing and coding specialists was $40,350 in May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The medical administrative assistant field is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing use of electronic health records (EHRs) will spur demand for medical administrative assistants, who will ensure that the records are accurate and complete.
The medical billing and coding field is also expected to grow by 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing use of electronic health records (EHRs) will spur demand for medical billing and coding specialists, who will ensure that the records are properly coded and billed.
The education necessary to become a medical administrative assistant versus a medical billing and coding specialist is quite different. A medical administrative assistant typically needs a high school diploma or the equivalent, while a medical billing and coding specialist often needs postsecondary education, which may include an associate’s degree or professional certification.
There is no difference in certification requirements for medical administrative assistants and medical billing and coding specialists. Both roles require certification from either an accredited institution or professional organization. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) credential, while the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential. To be eligible for either credential, candidates must pass an exam and meet experience and education requirements.
Employment of medical administrative assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The aging baby-boom generation will require more preventive medical services, diagnostic procedures, and treatments for illnesses and injuries. As a result, physicians will expand their practices and hire more medical assistants. In addition, as physicians increase the number of patients they see each day, they may need more medical assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties, such as scheduling appointments, collecting patient information, handling correspondence, billing, and coding for insurance purposes.
There are a few key ways in which medical administrative assistants and medical billing and coding specialists differ. Medical administrative assistants typically work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, or clinics, providing customer service and performing general office duties. They might also be responsible for insurance paperwork and maintaining patient records. Medical billing and coding specialists, on the other hand, usually work in central billing offices or health information departments. They code diagnoses and procedures for insurance claims and handle any resulting paperwork. Because they often work with sensitive patient information, they must be able to maintain confidentiality.
Medical Administrative Assistants vs. Medical Billing and Coding Specialists
Medical administrative assistants and medical billing and coding specialists are both integral members of the medical office team, but they perform very different roles. Medical administrative assistants are responsible for a wide variety of clerical duties, from scheduling appointments to greeting patients to handling insurance forms. Medical billing and coding specialists, on the other hand, are responsible for ensuring that medical claims are submitted correctly and in a timely manner. They also often work with patients to resolve billing questions and issues.