Everyone wants to “work from home”. But the reality is, the majority of ads online that claim to make you a home-based millionaire with all your personal freedoms and family time intact are working double-time to take your money and run. Reading ads online for money, medical transcription, and medical coding are all common false advertisements that snag thousands every year. In fact, medical coding at home job “opportunities” are regularly on the Better Business Bureau’s Top Ten scam list.
What many of these faulty companies try to do is sell computer software and a list of potential clients in your area. Hint: look them up in your phone book and verify that they even exist–that is IF you even have access to the information without giving over money first. Don’t give a company any money up front. Unfortunately, many people hand over a thousand bucks or so, and potential coders soon realize that a having the software isn’t enough. Besides, once the company has your credit card number, the chance for unauthorized charges and credit card abuse increase as well.
There are some legitimate ways to work from home as a medical coder, but not by forking over some money for software.
The key to getting started as a medical coder working at home for a physician or other health care provider or as an owner of your business, is to begin with your credentials. Take the time (six months to a year) to get the training you need to be able to do the job well and to get hired by clients who need you. It will cost more than $1,000, but the money will be an investment in your future. Many medical coders have to work to establish themselves as reliable, dependable employees by working in an office for a certain length of time before being allowed to work from a remote location. So be patient, do your homework, and prepare–and a real work from home job may roll your way.
About one-third of medical coders who work for health care providers are able to work from home. However, most of them began working for the physician at the physician’s office, often for at least six months to a year.
The physician generally wants to get to know the coder, see his or her work on a daily basis and make sure it meets the practice standards and the physician’s expectations. Once the coder has proven herself over a period of time, the physician may then feel more comfortable allowing the coder to work from home at least a portion of the time.
Owning Your Own Business
For many people, owning your own business seems like a dream come true. For most people who start their own business, there is little reason to invest in a franchise. To successfully operate your own business, you will have to become very knowledgeable in numerous areas. If you are going to have more than one client, you will need to familiarize yourself with invoices, taxes, marketing, creating and maintaining a website and more.
However, the freedom of owning your own business means you can make choices about how you spend your time, (you won’t work any less probably, but you can usually set your own hours), and how high you want to set your rate. While you have some limitations due to competition, medical coding is an in-demand area and you should be able to command professional rates.
One of the best resources for starting your own business is absolutely free. Called SCORE, the non-profit group consists of retired executives who offer their time and mentoring for free for people beginning their own business. Their online library is full of resources, and you can find out about online webinars, teleconferences and getting matched with a mentor. Go to www.score.org for the help you need to get your business started right.
Rachel Ballard, RNC, BSN is a registered nurse with almost a decade of clinical experience in both acute care and public health settings.