5 minutes with... Angie Murray

BC Advantage (BC): How long have you been in the Billing/Coding industry and how did you get into it in the first place?
Angie Murray (AM):
I have been in billing and coding for 15 years with the last 10 strictly billing. I started when my grandmother who had worked for a physician for 30 years offered me a position as a receptionist. She showed me some of the ropes and I eventually started to do the billing. At that time not all claims were submitted electronically so we did a lot of claims by hand. I found that the more experience I obtained I had a talent for auditing and finding problems in patient accounts, insurance payments etc. I taught myself a lot about coding by reading the CPT and ICD-9 books and read as much as I could. I also learned a lot from my mistakes and through this process I became familiar with insurance companies and what they required.

BC: Considering that you have been in the industry for quite a while - have you ever considered becoming certified with an association?
  I have considered becoming certified but my employers have never required it so as a result I've never pursued it. I do believe that further education is very important and I would love to someday become certified.

BC: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy my job even though at times it can be trying. I get satisfaction in accomplishing tasks, helping patients understand their insurance and requesting their assistance in getting their claims paid. I recently took over the credentialing as well and it's been great to learn something new. I like being able to talk to patients before surgery and help them to understand what their financial responsibility will be. A phone call is more personal from them than a generated letter and helps solve the "sticker shock" that patients have when we ask for the amount up front. I also enjoy the challenges that come with collections when solutions can be found that help everyone reach their expectations.

BC: What do you enjoy the least?
Confrontations with angry patients, either in the office or over the phone. I know it comes with the job but it still isn't pleasant. It amazes me how angry people can get but with the trends of large deductibles and coinsurances eventually the patient is going to have to pay. It's very surprising how little people know about their own insurance and how little they care until they get a bill.

BC: Describe a typical workday
Each day is different and that is part of what makes the job interesting. I'm the type of person who needs variety and the fact that my role here is never monotonous makes me a very happy employee.

BC: Professionally speaking, what would you consider to be your most valuable asset?
I believe my most valuable asset is that I am not easily intimidated by the challenges that this job brings. I quite enjoy getting stuck into a stack of unpaid claims with insurance companies and as it is my responsibility to get these claims paid I am quite tenacious in my approach.

BC: What would you say that you are most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the fact that I am trusted with my decisions and I can work on my own. I know my job and know it well and that has instilled trust from my employers.

BC: Have you ever thought about starting your own billing business?
I have never wanted to start my own business. At the end of the day it is nice to walk away from my desk and leave those work thoughts there. When you're self-employed it is very hard to separate work thoughts and home thoughts, as you are ultimately responsible for the success of your business. I don't want that.

BC: What is your greatest resource to staying ahead with all the changes that we face from year to year?
I totally rely upon the information that I can get on the Internet. I read newsletters and mailers from the insurance companies and my employers send me to classes once in a while that help me keep on top of the constant changes.

BC: In an ideal world what would you like to be doing right now?
I would love to be on the beach in Cabo, drinking margaritas and catching some sun&how about you?

BC: Any advise you can give to someone new to the billing field?
My greatest advice is to just be patients and do not take anything personally even though it's hard.

BC: Anything to add?
I think that it would be very beneficial if someday (in the very near future) insurance companies give instructions of some sort to the newly insured. I know that patients do get their benefit manuals but what "average Joe" reads them? It would be great if they got a call from an insurance company representative that explained the basics of their insurance like what an EOB is, their deductibles, coinsurance vs. copays etc. There are too many times that I have to explain what these things are to the patients. I don't mind but some days after the 15th or so call it can be draining. It's a shame that the insurance companies or human resource departments do not give basic training/information sessions when these patients sign up.