From chiropractors to psychiatrists, health care professionals must deal with insurers, billing patients, and keeping accurate payment records. Anybody who needs to file claims with third-party payers, including personal trainers and physical therapists, can benefit from the services of a medical billing professional. Medical billing service owners may work with one specific area of health care, or they may have a diverse clientele. Their clients may be in their local area, or they may work with clients in other cities, contacting them by phone, fax, and e-mail.
The Healthcare Billing and Management Association estimates that there are more than 1,500 billing companies nationwide, and reports that its average company member has "40–50 employees, uses commercial software, has been in operation over five years, has company revenues of $2.5 to $3.5 million, and processes about 350,000 to 400,000 claims per year."
Get some experience with medical billing before investing in a business. Working in a doctor's office can quickly familiarize you with the job's requirements, and will give you experience that you can promote to potential clients. Be sure that the business is for you, because start-up costs can run into thousands of dollars for computer and printer, database and marketing software, and medical billing software. Be careful about what billing software you select; there are many different programs available. The cost of software ranges from $100 to $12,000. In general, the software used by active billers around the country costs between $500 and $1,000. The lower cost programs may offer all you need for a small business. However, more expensive programs may also include additional services, such as access to a clearinghouse that routes your electronic claims to primary and secondary insurers.
Make sure you can take on enough clients to support your business. Most general care physicians have their own billing staffs. You will have to convince these doctors that they will benefit from contracting an outside billing service, and that you have the skills to handle the billing and improve payment methods. By joining a professional association, you can receive guidance and support from other medical billers.
The majority of people with their own billing services prefer to keep their businesses small, handling only a few clients. But it is possible to expand your business into a service for several doctors. You will need to make a significant investment to expand your business—medical billing service owners will need a staff, additional office equipment, and commercial office space.
Service owners can still advance into other areas while maintaining a small operation. Some experienced billing professionals serve as consultants for doctors' offices. They train an office's internal billing staff, help build billing records, and oversee the electronic claims filing.
Join the Healthcare Billing and Management Association and the American Medical Billing Association to take advantage of certification, continuing education, and networking opportunities.
Become certified in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.
Land an entry-level job at a medical billing firm to learn about the field and make valuable industry contacts.