Hot Home Business: Medical Billing

Want to work from home but not sure what you can do? The Hot Home Business Directory helps you find a business to run out of your home, lists the skills you need to do it and tells how to get started and where to get more information. Read on to find out if this Hot Home Biz is for you!

What You'll Do: Work for those in the medical field such as surgeons, clinics, physical therapists, doctors and so on. Working in the dental field is another option, but you will need separate software, codebooks and forms. Medical billing responsibilities include entering patient demographics, insurance information and charges into the software; preparing paper or electronic claims; mailing patient statements; following up on unpaid claims, appeals and denials; using "soft" collection methods with patients who are not paying their bills; and preparing reports. Once you are an experienced or educated medical biller you can also start your own medical billing firm.

Skills You'll Need: If you don't have a medical billing background you'll want to take courses, which should include how to fill out a claim form, ICD-9, CPT codes, Medicare and Medicaid guidelines. A medical terminology class, either through a good home study course or through your local college, is also a good idea. Another good start is to work in a medical office to gain the experience you need to work on your own at home.

Equipment You'll Need: Computer, printer, medical billing software, fax machine, medical coding books and medical claim forms. You will also have to find a clearinghouse to submit your claims electronically. A second phone line along with answering machine or answering service helps you stay in touch with clients all the time.

Start-up Costs: If you need to buy everything listed above, including courses on to become a medical billing and to start a medical billing business, you will be spending upwards of $7,000 to get your business going. If you have the experience and equipment, expect to pay about $3,000 to get started.

How Much You Can Expect to Make: Your income will vary and depend on how many clients you have, what their specialties are, how many patients they see a month, the type of insurances they accept and what type of service you are providing, such as claims only or full practice management. Where you live also plays a part in how much you can earn. There are three ways you can bill a client: a percentage of what is collected, a per-claim fee or a flat monthly rate. The average range for percentage is six to ten percent, and per claim $3 to $5. Each client is different and has different needs, and you may need to tailor your fees to the circumstances.

Resources:

iVillage's Medical Billing message board

Medical Billing Scam Watch -- a message board focusing on medical billing scams to watch out for

Organizations

K&L's Website for Medical Billers -- a medical billing company's site that includes tips, ideas and advice on how to get started

American Medical Billing Association -- a national organization that certifies medical billers

The National Electronic Biller's Alliance -- an organization that assists people entering or currently working in the medical billing industry; annual membership: $129, $169

Then get a jump on your business with help from other iVillagers on the Getting Started board.

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