An Introduction to the American Medical Billing Association

Founded in 1998 with the goal of serving as a networking hub for the medical billing and coding profession, the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA) currently has chapters in seven states nationwide and is the country’s largest credentialing and education association for third party medical billers and coders. These professionals who work for doctor’s offices and independent healthcare providers are some of the major benefactors of the AMBA, where it is possible to find resources for new startups, employment, webinars, training or certification courses, and even billing and coding games.

The AMBA currently counts around 6,000 members and is an approved retailer of the American Academy of Professional Coders, the largest credentialing and training agency for business medicine. Thanks to efforts over recent years by the AMBA, currently at least a dozen states now recognize National Medical Biller’s Day on March 22nd. In a statement released by the agency, the importance of having a national day of recognition is due to the fact that professionals, “…deal with upset patients and moody doctors regularly. They make crucial and important decisions that affect practice income and reimbursements daily, yet they are hardly ever praised for the important and professional work they do.”

Based out of Davis, Oklahoma and approaching its 16th anniversary, the AMBA continues to effectively target its main customer base: home-based and small-scale professional medical billers. Despite the growing tendency in the healthcare industry to conglomerate, the AMBA’s nearly 16 years in existence is a testament to its value as a locally-based on-the-ground organization that serves as a networking hub where small business owners can get rapid and informed feedback from real professionals- their colleagues in the industry.

The AMBA offers certification resources to prepare for the agency’s nationally qualifying exam to become a Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist, along with continuing education credits that are accepted by organizations such as the American Academy of Professional Coders and the Practice Management Institute. Many of the initial free resources available through the AMBA lead to memberships which offer insurance discounts, free software, and reduced prices on billing and coding professional books.

American Medical Billing Association’s Stance on Outsourcing

The AMBA is a strong critic of offshore outsourcing in the industry. Although this is one way organizations with large quantities of billing and coding data can cut costs, each time this data is transferred to a third party, personal and confidential information is more vulnerable to being compromised. Moreover, U.S. privacy and business laws do not apply to foreign companies and any legal issues arising overseas are potentially much more difficult to resolve.

And despite a lower sticker price, billing and coding work that is outsourced overseas oftentimes has hidden costs, argues the AMBA. It is not uncommon for overseas companies to not possess the skills to manage more complex projects, and communication barriers due to language or cultural differences may disrupt business operations. Besides these disadvantages there are several factors that can contribute to slowing the overall turnaround process.

In fairness to the argument however, the AMBA along with the U.S. billing and coding industry, does have everything to gain by keeping this practice located within the United States. Of course these points can be considered on their own merits and although they do hold weight, many larger companies continue to outsource their medical billing and coding work, suggesting there are opposing arguments which favor this.