Medical Billing Specialist Salary Report for Physicians: How Much to Compensate for Medical Billing Jobs

The topic of medical billing can seem complicated, but that’s why we have specialists. The amount of paperwork involved in the medical profession is immense. It includes the documentation of patient care for healthcare records, but it also includes billing and invoicing.

Some physicians opt to do their own medical billing, but many prefer to hire a professional to care for this task.

How much do professional medical billers earn?

What should you pay your medical biller?

This article will delve into the average medical billing salary and the various factors that affect how much a medical biller earns, including their title.

Note: Medical billing and medical coding are often confused as the same thing, but these are actually two different jobs. For the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the salary of medical billing.

Average Medical Billing Salary

There are many varying numbers when it comes to compensation data about the average salary of a medical billing specialist.

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for a medical billing specialist is $35,575, or an hourly rate of $17.11.

Glassdoor has a slightly higher number, reporting an average annual salary of $38,742.

Higher still is the compensation data from Salary.com. Their numbers have a coder earning a median of $40,647 per year.

Oddly enough, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the highest salary for health information technicians (which is just a different job title for the same position). Their data shows an average salary of $45,240 per year.

One of the reasons for the wide salary range for medical billing and coding is the availability for advancement in the medical coding career path and the titles that come with it.

Keep reading to learn about the various factors that affect how much you can expect to pay a medical biller.


Factors That Affect Medical Billing and Coding Salaries

Just as a physician would be paid differently depending on their unique situation, medical billing specialists earn different amounts based on various factors.

Here are the four main factors that can change how much a medical office should pay its biller:

Certification

Those pursuing a medical billing career don’t need much education to begin.

In fact, after a student receives their high school diploma, they can choose to follow up with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or just a certification.

As long as they follow a course that teaches them basic medical terminology, anatomy, and CPT and ICD-10 coding guidelines, they can enter the workforce.

A medical billing certification course can be completed in as little as six weeks. However, to earn a higher salary, many medical billers opt to continue their education and earn a higher level of certification.

The AAPC is one of the two main medical billing and coding programs in this country. The results of their most recent salary survey provide significant data on medical billing compensation.

The first heading of their survey delves into the various certifications available to medical billers and how obtaining these will affect their income.

It turns out that the range from the lowest certification, which is a certified professional biller (CPB), and their highest certification, a certified professional compliance officer (CPBO), is almost $25,000 per year.

In fact, there are eleven different certifications that a medical billing specialist can attain, each increasing their average pay, as this table shows:

Certified Professional Biller CPB $56,652
Certified Inpatient Coder CIC $57,936
Certified Professional Coder CPC $58,055
Certified Professional Coder-Payer CPC-P $60,753
Certified Outpatient Coder COD $62,846
Certified Risk Adjustment Coder CRC $64,995
Certified Professional Medical Auditor CPMA $70,320
Certified Professional Practice Manager SPPM $70,895
Certified Documentation Expert-Outpatient CDEO $73,723
Certified Professional Coder-Instructor CPC-I $74,822
Certified Professional Compliance Officer CPCO $80,550

Physician offices need to be aware of the coding certification that their billing clerk has achieved to ensure they are paying them a fair hourly wage.

Experience

As to be expected, the amount of experience a medical billing specialist has in the workforce will affect how much they earn.

Payscale shows the hourly wage of a medical biller to begin at $15.32, with the possibility of raising that wage by over five dollars per hour after gaining 20 years of experience.

According to the AAPC salary survey, entry-level billers with 1-3 years of work experience earn around $45,456 per year.

Those with 4-7 years of experience earn $50,490, on average.

The biggest jump comes when a medical biller has accumulated 8-10 years of experience. At that point, they earn an average salary of $57,769 per year.

Location

Location is another factor that affects medical biller salaries.

To pay a competitive wage, you need to account for the cost of living and the average salary being paid to medical billers in the area.

According to ZipRecruiter, the top-paying states for a medical biller include New York, New Hampshire, and California.

The AAPC salary survey lists D.C., Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts as the areas with the highest paying medical billing jobs.

This survey also breaks down the average medical billing salary by region.

According to their data, the area with the highest medical billing salary, on average, is the West Coast. Next are the New England states and then the Mid-Atlantic. The area where medical billers earn the least is the East South Central states.

The BLS lists very similar states as their top payers. These include D.C., Alaska, Washington, and Massachusetts.

Type of Practice

A medical biller’s salary will also change based on the type of practice that hires them.

The AAPC salary survey has good information on this, as well. According to their research, the bigger the employer a medical biller works for, the more money they will make.

According to this survey, here’s how practice types rank when it comes to medical biller salaries:

  1. Health system
  2. Inpatient/outpatient hospital
  3. Large group practice
  4. Medium group practice
  5. Solo practice

Outsourcing vs. On Staff

outsourcing-vs-on-staff

When hiring for medical billing specialists, you’re faced with some big questions:

Should you hire them as an employee or outsource an outside agency?

And if you decide to hire an employee, will they be an in-house staff member or work remotely?

In this section, we will focus on the pros and cons of each and weigh them out according to cost.

On Staff

Traditionally, the job description of a medical biller would include working from the physical location of the physician’s office that employed them.

They would be responsible for billing patients for healthcare services and filling out insurance claims from that location.

However, many of the new jobs in the medical billing field are completed off-site or remotely.

So are in-house billing clerks a better option?

Let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros

Here are some of the benefits of bringing a full-time (or even part-time) biller into your office:

Financial Control

In-house billing provides the physician with more control over the finances of his practice. There are times when a doctor will appreciate having the ability to know what’s coming in and when.

Familiarity

In-house staff are trusted employees that you know and see every day. You gain a rapport with them, and you can oversee their work.

Convenience

There’s convenience in accessibility. When your medical biller is in office, you can ask questions and get immediate answers.

Cons

Here are some of the downsides of bringing a billing specialist onto your team:

Costs

Full-time medical billers usually come with more costs. You will be paying this individual not just their salary but for their employee benefits, as well.

If they’re your first in-house biller, you’ll also have the added expense of billing technology.

Liability

Having a medical biller as an employee comes with higher liabilities. You are solely responsible for any errors, neglect, or even embezzlement that happens in your medical billing department.

May Need More Than One

Most doctors’ offices will only hire one or two medical billers and coders to support their offices. This puts the office at risk of support issues due to sickness, vacation, or quitting staff members.

Remote

Physician wearing headset sitting at desk with laptop

Another option for physicians is to hire a remote medical biller to care for these responsibilities.

By outsourcing to an off-site medical biller, you’ll get many of the benefits of in-house staff.

Pros

Here’s why some medical practices prefer remote medical billing specialists:

Cost-Efficiency

This employee will be classified as an independent contractor. This cuts out much of the overhead expenses that come with a W2 employee, such as benefits.

Productivity

Since this individual will be off-site, they can focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by visiting patients. This increased productivity can significantly increase your cash inflow.

Adaptability

This type of employee also comes with extra flexibility. As an independent contractor, they may be available to work more than other employees.

Cons

Here are some reasons why remote billers may not work for you:

Security

You risk violating HIPAA rules if this individual does not secure your patients’ data. It can be difficult to assess the security of their work computer.

Remote billing staff may also be working in an environment where other individuals are in earshot who could steal confidential information.

Communication

Since you don’t have a constant connection with your remote staff, there may be times when miscommunication results in errors or added costs on your end.

Distance

You are unable to oversee their work and determine their effectiveness throughout the day.

Medical Billing Service

Another option is to outsource your medical billing to a third-party service provider.

This is becoming an increasingly popular option in the medical industry, and it could be the best option for your practice.

Pros

Here are some of the benefits of hiring a medical billing agency:

Convenience

Medical billing service companies take a lot of responsibility off your shoulders. They hire staff, purchase software, train employees, and stay updated on HIPPA requirements and laws.

The company also collects balances on unpaid bills, files claims to insurance companies, tracks medical records, and distributes reimbursements.

Cost-Efficiency

According to The Physicians News Digest, outsourcing your medical billing is extremely cost-effective.

Their cost analysis shows that outsourcing is not only less expensive but results in a much higher rate of collections.

Ultimately, medical billing services are a well-oiled collection machine that can start collecting your unpaid accounts receivable as soon as you sign your contract.

Cons

Of course, this option does come with its downfalls:

Lack of Control

When you outsource your medical billing, you have little control over the financial aspects of your practice.

Unpredictable Pricing

Also, the cost of your medical billing services will be determined by the volume of collections. This is difficult to budget into your accounts since the volume will always be different.

Also, hidden fees are common in this industry, so be diligent in reading the fine print and checking your bills.


As a physician, you could make the load much lighter on your staff by hiring a medical biller. The type you choose is up to you, as each has its own pros and cons.

Remember to check for certifications and experience. Medical billing errors can be a big hassle that leads to angry patients, poor revenue management, and even an audit of your practice.

Don’t make the mistake of hiring the least expensive medical biller you can find. You get what you pay for, and it isn’t worth tarnishing your practice’s good reputation.

If you choose to outsource your medical billing process, look over their reviews online and ask for a list of all of their fees before deciding.

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