There are a lot of medical coding and billing online schools to choose from, and it all boils down to choosing the one that fits your needs and preferences as a student.
Over the years, there have been a higher demand for medical coders and billers.
In fact, an article published in U.S. News, says that the “health information technology field is expected to grow as the population ages and requires more health services”. Medical Coding and billing belong to the “health information technology” sector.
Furthermore, the said article stated that based on the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical coding and billing industry is projected to grow by 11% through 2028. The said projection is much faster than the average for other professions out there.
But the most important question now is – how does one get into medical coding and billing?
There are a couple of ways for you to choose from to get started with your medical coding and billing career, and one of them is choosing from among the best medical coding and billing online schools.
Yes, education is the primary key to get into the medical coding and billing industry and to succeed in this field eventually.
Just so you know, while other schools offer face-to-face classes, online schools are becoming more preferred by most individuals who are planning to start a medical coding and billing career. Some of the major reasons include convenience, flexibility, and of course, cost.
So, as mentioned earlier, there are a lot of medical coding and billing online schools out there to choose from, but just like everything else, there are a few that really stand out, and we are going to share them with you in the next sections.
For your reference, in the next sections, we are going to particular focus on the following topics:
- About Medical Coding and Billing
- How to Start Your Medical Coding and Billing Career
- Medical Coding and Billing Online Schools
ABOUT MEDICAL CODING AND BILLING
There are a couple of important things that you need to know if you want to pursue a career in medical coding and billing.
Apart from choosing a medical coding and billing school, you must also know, first and foremost, the following:
First of all, it is important to know that medical coding and billing are two different, but equally essential processes in the healthcare system.
According to the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), “medical coding is the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes. The diagnoses and procedure codes are taken from medical record documentation, such as transcription of physician’s notes, laboratory and radiologic results, etc“.
Furthermore, AAPC says that it is the medical coder’s job to “help ensure the codes are applied correctly during the medical billing process, which includes abstracting the information from documentation, assigning the appropriate codes, and creating a claim to be paid by insurance carriers“.
Meanwhile, AAPC defines medical billing as “the process of submitting and following up on claims with health insurance companies in order to receive payment for services rendered by a healthcare provider“.
As a medical biller, it is your job to translate a healthcare service to a billing claim. Moreover, AAPC states that it is the “responsibility of the medical biller in a healthcare facility is to follow the claim to ensure the practice receives reimbursement for the work the providers perform“.
If you want to know more about what medical billing and coding is all about, we recommend you check out this informative video below by Institute of Medical and Business Careers:
If you want to pursue a career as a medical coder or as a medical biller, or both, it is important that you are able to self-assess whether you qualify for the job or not.
Although each employer does have its own set of requirements, some of the most common qualifications they look for are as follows:
- Certificate or Associate Degree. Generally speaking, employers prefer candidates who are either a certificate or associate degree holder, particularly for entry-level positions.
- Medical Coding/Billing Certification. If you want to be competitive or if you aim to land in a better medical coding and billing position, the key is to acquire or earn a medical coding and billing certification. There are several institutions out there that provide the needed certification.
- Work Experience. Most employers also look into the candidate’s work experience, especially for higher-level positions. Although some do consider those with related work experience, others are specific to medical coding and billing work experience.
Apart from these, most employers also opt for candidates who have the following important skills:
- Excellent Communication Skills. This is particularly required because as a medical coder and biller, you are expected to communicate often with healthcare providers, insurance companies, etc. Having excellent communication ensures that you get and relay every message right.
- Strong Organizational Skills. As a medical coder and biller, you will be handling several documents – and these are confidential ones – thus, it is only right that you are highly organized to ensure you won’t misplace any information or document.
- Ability to Handle and Keep Confidential Information. As mentioned, you are going to handle confidential information. You are expected to keep them and not divulge them by any means.
- Computer Skills. The majority of your tasks as a medical coder and biller are done using a computer, which makes this skill highly relevant for the job.
Working in the medical coding and billing industry can be financially rewarding especially if you have high credentials.
As mentioned earlier, medical coding and billing are two different processes that require two different professionals. However, there are certain cases that an individual can be both provided that person has acquired proper training.
Unfortunately, we are unable to find a specific salary range for a medical coder and biller – as one. But, we found data for a medical coder’s salary, as well as medical biller’s.
Based on the data provided on Salary.com, the current average salary of a medical coder in the United States is $171,813.
Meanwhile, according to the data published by Glassdoor, medical billers in the country make an average base pay of $33,716 per year. Depending on the medical biller’s qualification, the base pay could range from as low as $24,000 up to as much as $49,000.
HOW TO START YOUR MEDICAL CODING AND BILLING CAREER
Here’s the thing –
If you want to pursue a medical coding and billing career, the primary step is to study.
Yes, you read it right! You need to go to school. Otherwise, you won’t be able to apply for any certifications. Having finished a degree, a program or a training course is key to get certified.
However, the good thing about it is that there are a lot of options to gain the education you need in order to get into the medical coding and billing industry and essentially, get professional certification.
Your choices include:
- Certificate or Diploma Program
- Associate Degree Program
- Bachelor’s Degree Program
- Training Courses
To help you understand better the difference between these options, here’s a short explanation of each:
Certificate or Diploma Program
Certificate and diploma programs are different from one another.
There are three major differences between the two programs.
First, it would be time. Certificate programs take lesser time to complete as compared to diploma programs.
Second, the curriculum. Certificate programs have slightly more restrictive curricula, while diploma programs are better-rounded.
Lastly, it would be the cost of the program. Certificate programs are obviously cheaper as compared to diploma programs.
Associate Degree Program
As compared to certificate and diploma programs, taking up an associate degree can be more costly. Needless to say, it takes a little more time to finish (usually, between one to two years).
The good thing about pursuing an associate degree program, though, is that it opens you to more career options. It makes you more competitive in the medical coding and billing industry.
Also, if you wish to have professional certifications, most of the organizations require at least an associate degree for you to get certified.
Bachelor’s Degree Program
Taking up a bachelor’s degree means allotting four years of your time to study a certain course. Usually, people who aim to pursue a career in medical coding and billing choose bachelor’s degrees in health information management or healthcare administration.
When you choose this path, you get to earn a more comprehensive education as well as training as compared to other choices. Needless to say, these are keys towards adding up to your value and being qualified for more lucrative levels of employment.
Of course, taking up a bachelor’s degree means higher cost.
Taking up a training course is ideal for people who already have a background or strong knowledge of the topics that will be discussed.
Training courses can usually be taken up for just a while — normally, in four to six months. Needless to say, since most training courses are online, you have can be flexible with how long you’re going to finish it.
There are a couple of credentialing organizations that offer preparation courses for different medical coding and billing exams, and one of them is the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
MEDICAL CODING AND BILLING ONLINE SCHOOLS
As mentioned in the previous section, the primary step to get into the medical billing and coding industry is to acquire the necessary education.
While there are institutions that offer face-to-face classes, over the years, more and more schools are already offering online medical coding and billing education.
So, as initially promised, and the very core of today’s topic, we are sharing with you some of the best medical codings and billing online schools today.
But, first, why choose online schools over physical schools?
We can point out a number of reasons, but we are going to focus on three things – flexibility, convenience, and cost.
Most online schools allow you to study at your own pace. Meaning, you can finish your course anytime you want or within a specific time frame set by the institution. Having flexibility in terms of schedule is specifically beneficial if you are already working or are a stay at home mom.
Studying online is also convenient because you do not need to go out of your home. You simply do everything from home.
And of course, compared to a physical school, online schools provide cheaper fees.
So, with that said, let’s proceed to the real deal.
As mentioned, some of the best medical coding and billing online schools include:
- American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
- Florida A&M University
- Hutchinson Community College
- Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) has been around since 1990. Thanks to its alumni, AAPC has earned a good reputation online.
AAPC offers a wide range of classes at very affordable prices. Apart from that, their website offers a wide range of resources to help their students succeed in their careers.
With 190,000 members, AAPC is currently the world’s largest healthcare training and credentialing organization.
Apart from the programs offered by AAPC, other benefits include mentorship, networking, as well as online apprenticeship, which helps provide its students with practical experience.
AAPC certification programs focus on physician and outpatient coding, which are ideal for clinics, doctor’s offices, as well as other outpatient settings.
American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is another popular choice among individuals planning to pursue a medical coding and billing career.
Founded in 1928, AHIMA currently has more than 103,000 members and is associated with 52 states.
At the moment, AHIMA offers eight certifications in professional and facility coding, medical records management, privacy, and security, as well as documentation improvement.
These certifications particularly focus on inpatient and outpatient coding, which are suitable among hospital and inpatient facility settings.
AHIMA also offers higher-level certifications, which include the Registered Health Information Administrator Exam (RHIA) and Registered Health Information Technician Exam (RHIT).
Florida A&M University
More popularly known as Florida A&M or FAMU, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University are a public university situated in Tallahassee.
If you wish to take up its medical coding program, the program is available at the university’s Office of Continuing Education. Furthermore, accreditation is also provided online,
What is nice about the format that FAMU provides is that it allows students to finish their coursework on their own timetable.
However, the school recommends a pace for each of the three modules, which consists of three courses. Each of these modules should last within 15 weeks only.
Once the student has completed the whole program, he or she gets a Medical Coding Certificate of Completion.
Hutchinson Community College
If you wish to pursue a medical coding and billing career, at the same time, earn a Healthcare Coding Specialist Certificate, Hutchinson Community College is another option to consider.
Hutchinson Community College was founded in 1928, and is situated in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The college’s online program consists of 45 credit hours, which can be done in three semesters.
Most credits earned in the college’s program are applicable to the Health Information Management Associate in Applied Science degree, which makes it ideal if you wish to further advance your study.
Furthermore, it is important to note that Hutchinson Community College requires you to have any of the following prior to enrollment in the program:
- A previous academic performance as a high school graduate with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale for the final six semesters of high school
- a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale for a minimum of 12 semester hours of college
- a minimum GED average standard score of 58
Contrary to other online schools, the tuition fee at Hutchinson Community College is definitely cheaper.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is part of the Purdue University system and the Indiana University system.
IUPUI offers an online medical coding certification program through Indiana University’s School of Information and Computing.
The online program offers 28 credit hours, and is offered in an asynchronous format.
Once done with the certificate programs, students can now proceed to the site for the CCA examination.
Meanwhile, if you wish to sign up for the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Undergraduate Certificate in Medical Coding program, it is important to note that the program has prerequisites, which include Anatomy for Health Care Management, Physiology for Health Care Management, Medical Terminology, and Computer Concepts for Health Information.
All credits earned through this program make you eligible to apply for a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management, which the institution also offers.
When it comes to cost, it varies depending on certain factors as well as your residency.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON MEDICAL CODING AND BILLING ONLINE SCHOOLS
If you are planning to pursue a medical coding and billing career, it is vital that you familiarize yourself with the process.
Of all the processes, however, the primary and major stepping stone is to get a medical coding and billing education. But, it is important to note, that while there are a lot of medical coding and billing online schools out there and even physical school, you have to choose an accredited institution to ensure that after taking the program or the course, you get to proceed with your preferred certification.
So, have you found your online medical coding and billing school yet?