How Hard Is It to Learn Medical Billing & Coding?

medical billing and coding professional
medical billing and coding professional

How Hard Is It to Learn Medical Billing & Coding?

You don’t remember, but when you first learned how to talk, you weren’t very good at it. Sure, you knew a few words, but sometimes you were the only one who understood what you were trying to say. But then those first words turned into more words. Before you knew it, you were a rock star, chatting incessantly to anyone who would listen! Learning Medical Billing & Coding is a little like learning a new language, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s what you need to understand about medical billing and coding to get started:

What Are the Different Medical Codes?1

There are two different types of medical coding systems: the International Classification of Diseases, (ICD) and the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT). The ICD helps providers classify diseases and understand who becomes ill or dies from the illness. It’s used by more than 100 countries and is critical for health administrators to understand where to send resources. The current version of the ICD (ICD-10) has more than 68,000 codes for “infections and parasitic diseases, neoplasms, and congenital malformations, as well as diseases of the digestive system, respiratory system, and nervous system.”1 CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes are used to describe medical, surgical, and diagnostic services given to patients. There are about 10,000 CPT codes currently in use.

Now if those numbers sound like a lot (they are), it’s important to put them into a context that makes sense. It’s also good to know that you’ll always have access to manuals so you can look up codes when you’re in doubt.

An Alphanumeric System for Medical Codes

Both the ICD-10 and CPT use an alphanumeric system, which means each code has both letters and numbers. ICD-10 codes are seven characters, beginning with a letter and two numbers. Those first three characters are the category of injury or disease. For example, A01 would mean the disease affects the lungs. Diseases affecting the digestive system would be classified with the letter “K,” followed by two numbers. Next would come subclassifications that would tell the provider about the cause, location, severity, type of illness or disease and how it presents in the patient. It’s all very orderly and once you learn the basics, it makes a lot of sense. CPT codes use the same kind of system, but they describe tests, surgeries, evaluations and other procedure perform by healthcare providers.

Some Strategies to Learn Medical Codes

So how are you going to learn all those codes? First of all, you don’t have to learn all of them. Even people who have been doing Medical Billing & Coding for years access their coding books from time to time to make sure they get things right. But you will want to learn many of them, especially the broad categories. And to succeed in Medical Billing & Coding, you’ll need to know about:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Human Diseases
  • Medical Terminology
  • Coding and Classification Systems
  • Electronic Health Record Fundamentals
  • Health Insurance
  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Regulations
  • Healthcare Communication
  • Computer Fundamentals

Importance of Medical Billing & Coding

The whole reason you’ll learn about medical codes is to bill insurance companies properly. Those codes that will become second nature to you make certain insurance companies have accurate information and patients receive the benefits they’re entitled to. If you’ve ever had a medical procedure, you know costs can add up and you’re probably thankful that insurance companies cover most of those costs. But that’s only because trained and profession Medical Billers and Coders do their jobs!


At YTI Career Institute, you can train to become a Medical Billing & Coding professional at our Lancaster campus in as little as 12 months. Interested in learning more? Fill out the form and one of our representatives will get back to you to answer all your questions.