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To excel in billing, one must have skin as thick as an East Texas armadillo and juggling abilities of a circus act.
There is much talk in the employment world these days about job security. It’s great if you have it and worrisome if you don’t. A medical biller has awesome job security mainly because nobody wants our job. Think about it, a job where every phone call is a fight is not going to have people camped out overnight to apply, at least not unless the person is a glutton for punishment.
People have flocked to medical billing in recent years because it was such a growing field. One of the reasons there was such a demand for medical billers, a reason that most people won’t tell you, is biller burnout. With increasing changes and additions to governmental regulations, the move of insurance policies to high-deductible plans, and the stress of converting to EHRs, billers’ patience and ability to cope can be stretched paper thin.
The demand to do more in less time just to break even financially has taken its toll on many providers, and billers have been hurt in the process. When a patient is not happy about long wait times or the short amount of time the physician spends with them, he or she most often ends up complaining, not while they are in the office, but when the statement arrives. Then the patient calls and unloads his frustrations on the biller who “expects them to pay this much for the 10 minutes the doctor was in the room? And they complain “that is highway robbery!” Each person has her own limit for how much of this unloaded frustration she can take before they start feeling burnout.
The ads for medical billing training programs show a happy smiling person at a desk being handed a piece of paper from a doctor while the announcer gushes about how much better your life will be once you’ve been trained in medical billing and obtain a rewarding career in medical billing. What they gloss over is the hole in the wall behind the biller where they’ve beaten their head against it while trying to get an insurance company to answer a simple question about why the claim was not paid according to the contract.
Many billers are leaving the field because they have reached their limit. They’ve simply had one too many days where they were blamed for way too many things that were beyond their control. They’ve had more than they could take of insurance companies’ stall tactics and outright lies. They’ve listened to the same excuse from the same person more than they can bear. Most who leave a billing job never look back because of the freedom they feel once they are out from under the daily hailstorm of frustrating incidents.
Those who stay in and excel at medical billing are a unique breed of people. Not only do they have to stay informed of current trends in government regulations that affect their particular practice, they must continually be aware of coding, network, and fee schedule changes. They must also keep an eye on situations in their own office that could result in billing problems. For example, patients who continually “forget their checkbook” and therefore don’t pay their copay at time of service, or physicians who continually tell patients it’s OK to remove that new suspicious mole while they’re here for a follow-up visit without informing the pre-cert depart. Those who excel in billing must, above all else, have skin as thick as an East Texas armadillo and the juggling abilities of a skilled circus performer. They have learned to somehow avoid internalizing the daily frustrations and hold their head high, confident in a job well done. To excel at medical billing is to take everything that can be potentially job-ending frustration and use it to accomplish the task at hand, which is to ensure your practice is being paid properly for the service it renders.
Billers who stay have also learned that part of their success will depend on creating a network of fellow billers who can offer the much-needed moral support of someone going through the same things as they are. If you are a biller and you don’t have this network of support, you should start searching for one right now, before you do get burned out.