Becoming a Traveling Medical Coder – Is It for You?

Traveling peddlers are the stuff of stories and legends of days gone by. They traveled from town to town selling their wares and offering their services. These things happened in the days before the Internet and even before the days of major highways. Traveling merchants do appear to be a phenomenon gathering dust in the attics of time, but that is not always the case, as some people still travel around to offer their services to others. Believe it or not, traveling medical coders are in that procession.

Job Overview

Not every healthcare facility can afford to employ a full-time medical coder, and allowing confidential records to be processed from a distant location can be extremely risky. That’s why coders who travel are sometimes used. These professionals can be freelance workers, or they can be employed by third-party contractors. Here are some key points about the job:

  • It requires a person to work on site for a period of time, from several weeks to several months.
  • Travel and living arrangements are typically paid for by the facility or the contracting company.
  • Professional certifications are recommended in order to do this type of work; a year or two of experience is essential.
  • It is a great position for somebody who has no family commitments and the pay is considered to be quite good.

Downsides to Being a Traveling Medical Coder

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The reason for getting top dollar is the very real possibility of burnout. A traveling medical coder is dealing with different locations which may or may not have good working conditions. It is not uncommon to go from a highly professional facility to one that is just a notch above a sweatshop. This type of job can also be very stressful for anyone who has a family, as this person is on the road for extended periods of time, and the employer may or may not pay for visits back home. In fact, the coder may not be able to return home until after the contract has been completed. Lastly, there is a degree of uncertainty about the position; despite the good pay, there can be times when the individual is not employed and risks losing any health insurance he or she has been provided.

Benefits of the Job

This can obviously be a very tiring occupation, so why do it? The answer can be found in the career path that the individual chooses to walk down. Anyone who wants to work for themselves can appreciate how hard it is to network and get a book of clients. A traveling medical coder working for a third-party contractor has the opportunity to develop very constructive networks and connections that can prove invaluable later in their career. It is also not out of the question for a medical facility to eventually hire the coder with whom they have done business. Traveling also provides a variety of experiences that can make a person even more knowledgeable about the profession, as different locations provide additional insights. The experience can add serious weight to the person’s resume.

Things to Consider Before Taking This Path

There are a few things to consider before becoming a traveling coding professional. If you are working for a contractor, be sure to check the work policies carefully. What expenses are covered by the contractor? Is it possibly to go home on the weekends? A traveling worker may also wish to have a personal health insurance policy and make financial arrangements to cover periods of possible unemployment.

It goes without saying that this job is not for everybody; however, for the right person it can be an enriching experience that increases the value of a person’s professional skill set.

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