Reality checks about opportunities and roadblocks to telecommuting
Working from home is a dream many people share. For that reason, you may be thinking about enrolling in a medical billing and coding school.
In fact, many health claims specialists make a full-time income while working from home – but it’s important to realize that there were no shortcuts to their success.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering a career in medical billing and coding, with the hopes of working from home.
It won’t happen right away.
The truth of the matter is that working from home may be several years in the future. Why? Because you’ll probably have to first spend a few years working on-site in a medical facility.
But remember to take the long view about this. Working on-site can allow you gain valuable experience. Being with other health claims specialists can allow you to refine your skills and ask questions.
Plus, with a few years’ experience under your belt, you’ll be much more employable as a solo practitioner.
You may need to learn how to “sell.”
There are few different paths you can take to work from home. One way may require you to get your own clients.
If you want to work for yourself, you’ll probably need to prospect and pitch your own clients to build a revenue stream. You may eventually even end up subcontracting work to other coding specialists.
Or, you might rather pursue employment with an agency that sells outsourced coding to medical facilities. If you’re hired as an employee or as a subcontractor, you generally wouldn’t be responsible for bringing in work.
You may need to be your own “HR department.”
Independent coders often have to get their own health insurance unless they’re covered by a spouse or partner’s plan.
Although, if you’re hired as a remote employee, you may be covered through the employer’s health plan.
In any case, know that getting your own insurance isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Visit the U.S. Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to find out how to purchase individual health insurance in your state. [Note: The phone lines are manned 24/7, so try calling during off hours if you can’t get through during the day.]
Vacation time may look different
Working from anywhere – including the beach – sounds pretty good to a lot of people. And you may be able to do that.
However, keep in mind that you’ll need a little bit more than a laptop and Wi-Fi. Companies often require their remote billers and coders to connect to their system using a secure Internet connection in order to comply with HIPAA regulations.
One other thing to keep in mind: Contractors are unlikely to have paid vacation time. That means you’ll either need to make up for lost work time later, or budget so that you can afford to lose several day’s pay.
Time management is key
Making your own schedule may be one of the biggest perks of working from home.
Lots of people find that this can even mean a cost savings, e.g. parents of young children may find that they have to pay out less for childcare.
However, remember that medical billing and coding requires strict attention to detail. Watching small children may compromise the quality of your work, unless you block out periods of time when you can put your full focus on your job.
Some other things to think about
Here are few more reality checks:
- Continuing your education so you can remain marketable is an important part of attracting and retaining clients. People who from home have to take the initiative to seek out additional training – although classes may be tax deductible if you’re self-employed.
- To be profitable, you may need to become a “one man band” of sorts. That is, you may need to fulfill multiple job roles above and beyond your billing and coding duties, including sales, accounting, human resources (i.e., taking care of your own benefits), customer service, and IT.
- You’ll have pay your own taxes on your earnings.
- Working from home can be isolating for some people. Think carefully about whether you’re prepared to give up working with others in close proximity.