|SCHOOL NAME||CITY, STATE||STUDENT POPULATION||SCHOOL TYPE||TUITION||PROGRAM TYPE||PROGRAMS|
|University of Phoenix-Online Campus||Phoenix, AZ||307,871||Private, 4-year||$9,216||Both||View Programs|
Associate - ONLINE
|Ashford University||Clinton, IA||74,596||Private, 4-year||$9,648||Campus||View Programs|
|Arizona State University||Tempe, AZ||72,254||Public, 4-year||$9,208||Campus||View Programs|
|Miami Dade College||Miami, FL||63,736||Public, 4-year||$2,483||Campus||View Programs|
|Lone Star College System||The Woodlands, TX||63,029||Public, 2-year||$960||Campus||View Programs|
|Houston Community College||Houston, TX||63,015||Public, 2-year||$744||Campus||View Programs|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL||58,465||Public, 4-year||$4,426||Campus||View Programs|
|Ohio State University-Main Campus||Columbus, OH||56,867||Public, 4-year||$9,168||Campus||View Programs|
|Kaplan University-Davenport Campus||Davenport, IA||56,606||Private, 4-year||$13,365||Campus||View Programs|
Medical billing, coding and similar careers lie at the intersection between health care, business and administration. As the health care sector grows to meet the demands of aging baby boomers and federal health care legislation that will offer insurance to a larger population, the need for health care support staff to assist physicians, surgeons and nurses is expected to increase. Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities depend on highly skilled medical billers, coders, transcriptionists, administrative assistants, auditors and the like to ensure that facilities are running smoothly and efficiently, claims are collected and processed correctly and important patient information is accurately documented, updated and easily accessible. While medical billing and coding have similar end goals, and may even be done by the same individual, each plays a specific role within the medical workflow.
Schools: Medical billing and coding schools offer a variety of programs with rigorous curriculum to prepare students for the field. Depending on your career goals and availability, you can work towards a certificate or diploma in medical billing and coding or an associate degree.
Classes/Courses: Courses in medical billing and coding cover a range of topics, from medical terminology to records management to claims reimbursements. Throughout the course of your education and training, you can also opt to take additional courses such as business essentials, pharmacology or classes on special industry-related topics such as Changes and Opportunities in the U.S. Healthcare Industry.
Other Training: For those who want to stay up-to-date with industry developments, there are a number of online resources that provide videos, articles, publications and information on relevant events in the field of medical billing and coding. These resources are a convenient way to brush up on certain skills and also gain exposure to any new topics affecting the industry.
When it comes to medical billing and coding training, there are a couple different options that prospective students can choose from:
Online schools: Much like traditional campus-based programs, online programs in medical billing and coding teach students the basic fundamentals of the profession in order to prepare graduates for a position as a medical biller or coder. Students can earn either a certificate in medical billing and coding or an associate degree. Many online schools also prepare students to sit for national certification exams. Online students learn everything they need to know to become successful medical billing and coding professionals, including medical terminology, coding compliance, insurance plans, HIPAA, ICD-9, ICD-10, CPT and HCPCS coding. The only difference is that online students have the flexibility to complete their certificate or degree entirely online. Students can access courses anytime and submit assignments from anywhere there is an Internet connection. They can also interact with peers and professors via email, online message boards or live chat sessions.
Online courses and classes: Students seeking certification, but who wish to learn on their own, without the structure of an online program, can take advantage of online classes. Individual online courses in various medical billing and coding topics are offered at a number of online schools or through healthcare associations such as the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA). These courses can be taken entirely online and at a student’s desired pace. Some individual online courses can also be taken for continuing education units (CEUs). Many health care professionals, medical billers and coders included, are required to stay up-to-date with new technology as well as industry standards and regulations.
Do I do all my coursework online?
Many medical billing and coding programs are available completely online; it’s simply a matter of finding the right program for the specialty of interest to you.
How long will it take to complete an online course or program?
Most certificate programs are credit-based so that students can complete them within about one year. The flexible nature of an online program allows students to work through coursework more quickly, if desired.
What are the technology requirements of an online program?
Technology requirements include an updated computer with Internet access and a Web browser. Word processing software is also necessary to complete most assignments. Schools might have additional requirements; check with your enrollment counselor.
What kinds of courses can I expect to take?
Students earning a certificate in medical billing and coding will take classes in health records, classification and coding systems, health data requirements, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology and more. Science and health classes are also part of most programs.
How do I take exams?
Students take exams online through software or programs that are usually provided by the school. Exams are typically timed and can include multiple choice, matching and essay questions that are scored by on-campus or satellite instructors.
How much will a certificate program cost me?
Costs vary from school to school. Average costs range from about $1,500 to $12,000 depending on if the program consists of a certificate or associate degree. The more versatile the program, the higher the cost.
Are financial aid options available?
Many schools have affordable payment options for students. Students may also apply for scholarships, grants and loans from both public and private sources. An enrollment advisor can help determine the best route for applying for financial assistance.
What is the job outlook for someone with a medical billing and coding certificate?
With the growing need for medical professionals, the job outlook for medical billing and coding is good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field will grow between 2012 and 2022, though the rate of growth depends on the specialty. For example, medical transcriptionists can expect about an 8 percent growth in jobs while medical records technicians can expect a 22 percent jump in available jobs, much faster than professions outside health care.
How much can I expect to make once I finish a program?
Education and training is often a determining factor in pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that medical records technicians earn about $34,160 per year and medical assistants earn about $29,370 per year. Pay also varies by geographic region and the type of medical facility; private practices tend to pay more than public health care centers.
Are programs different if I already have some medical background?
Yes. Some programs will allow students to test out of certain classes, including those involving medical terminology. Students should discuss their background and previous coursework with enrollment counselors to determine the best course of action.
Medical billing and coding fall under the broader occupational category of health care support. Below are some examples of related careers that also function as support positions in a variety of medical settings:
Medical assistants take care of administrative and clinical duties in health offices. They record patient information, take vital signs, assist the health professional in patient examinations, schedule patient appointments, prepare lab results, and more. Like any medical field, it is a fast-paced and rewarding career. Those who work in a traditional office generally enjoy regular hours; however, because health care is needed around the clock, evening and weekend shifts are available in facilities that are always open, such as hospitals and urgent care offices.
Those interested in becoming medical assistants should have an education and background in the sciences. While a specific degree or certificate is not required, employers generally prefer to hire those with postsecondary education. Medical assistants should be detail-oriented and be able to understand and follow medical charts. Because they interact with patients, they should also have excellent interpersonal skills.
Medical administrative assistants help ensure that medical offices run in a smooth, efficient manner. They often serve as a medical secretary, assisting office managers, physicians and other medical professionals. They greet patients, prepare patient rooms, complete and file paperwork, answer telephones, manage medical records and much more.
Like medical assistants, medical administrators must have some medical knowledge and training through a certificate or associate degree program. However, they should also have experience working in a clerical position in an office setting. They should be organized, efficient and be able to take direction from multiple people. Medical administration assistants should be able to interact with a wide variety of people within the medical practice.
Medical auditors are responsible for compliance of medical documentation. They review medical records in an effort to provide the most efficient delivery of health care to the patient. Auditors help to protect against fraudulent claims and billing and work with insurance companies to make sure claims are correct. Medical auditors generally work a traditional day shift.
Special certificate programs are available for those interested in becoming a medical auditor. The program includes classes on coding concepts, compliance guidelines, medical record auditing, communication and risk analysis. In addition to knowledge in these areas, medical auditors must have a good eye for detail and be able to communicate effectively in difficult situations.
A medical compliance officer is responsible for ensuring that medical and dental offices stay current on OSHA, HIPAA regulations and infection control. They inspect medical offices to analyze safety procedures and offer solutions to offices that are not in compliance with current laws and regulations. Medical compliance officers generally work as contractors, visiting offices on an as-needed basis. They may visit a variety of offices and facilities on any given week.
Medical compliance officers often provide training and support to medical office staff. They need to have excellent communication skills and be able to present information in a concise and thoughtful way. Officers need to be experts in their field and therefore must have specialized training and some medical background. A specialized certificate or degree indicates a higher level of knowledge and professionalism.
Medical transcriptionists convert physicians’ oral voice recordings into written reports. Physicians dictate test results, reports, referral letters and other documents, and transcriptionists transcribe and interpret this information. Transcriptionists work in medical offices, usually behind the scenes where there is little interaction with patients. Many are self-employed and work from home on a contractual basis.
While a specific degree or certificate is not required, medical transcriptionists with a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree are more marketable in the workplace. Transcriptionists should be familiar with medical terms and electronic health records. Because they are preparing written reports, they should also have exceptional grammar and word-processing skills.
Medical records technicians help to keep information and data organized in a medical office. They code and classify patient information for insurance and patient reimbursement and help to maintain patient files. Medical records personnel work in medical offices, typically full time, and hours will vary depending on the type of medical facility.
A postsecondary certificate and associate degree is needed to become a medical records technician. A degree in health information technology is a good choice as it includes coursework in reimbursement methods, health care statistics, medical classification and coding, and more. Those interested in a career in medical records should be extremely detail-oriented and be able to discuss patient information and records with physicians and other medical personnel.
Students who enter a medical billing and coding program need to know how much they could make once they graduate. However, salary expectations depend largely on level of education and location. Use the following salary tool to see how much medical billing and coding professionals earn in their areas.
In addition to medical billing and coding, the medical support and health care industries boast a wide range of related careers, many of which offer excellent salary potential to qualified candidates. Use the tool below to see how much professionals in these areas earn, on average, where they live.
Founded in 1988, the AAPC is the nation’s largest training and credentialing organization for business professionals within the medical industry. AAPC first provided education and professional certification to medical coders, but has since expanded to include professionals in medical auditing, compliance and practice management.
Recognized as the leading source of health information management knowledge and an authority for professional education and training, the AHIMA promotes the effective management of health data and medical records in order to ensure quality healthcare delivery.
The PAHCS is a network and member support system that aims to enhance the compliance, documentation and reimbursement capabilities of healthcare coders.
Through education and networking opportunities as well as related resources, the AMBA aims to provide its members with up-to-date information to help medical billers enhance their industry knowledge and skills.
The AAMA is a tri-level association consisting of national, state and local organizations. Its overall mission is to provide education, certification, networking opportunities and protection to medical assistant professionals.
This organization offers publications, updated information and other member benefits to certify and advance the professionalism of medical assistants.
The CMAA is a professional organization specifically for administrative medical assistants in the state of California. Founded in 1954, it promotes the strengthening of work skills through the advancement of continuing education and certification for administrative medical assistants in the state.
The WSSMA consists of the national AAMA, the State Society (WSSMA) and County Chapters for a tri-level organization. Its goal is to promote the professional growth of medical assistants in the state of Washington through continuing education and up-to-date information/trends in the medical industry.
This national organization consists of members who are healthcare professionals from a variety of reimbursement backgrounds. The AAMAS provides resources and support to aide the advancement of medical auditing.
The NAMAS offers training programs and products to support and advance the professional careers of healthcare support staff, including medical auditing specialists.
The HCCA is a member-based organization that provides news, educational opportunities, access to a network of professionals and other resources to those in the healthcare compliance industry.
Dedicated to the advancement of healthcare coders, clinicians and compliance professionals, the BMSC offers certification, education and training opportunities.
Formerly the American Association for Medical Transcription, the AHDI is the world’s largest professional association for professionals in healthcare documentation. Under its new title, the organization aims to be the voice of healthcare documentation specialists to ensure that they are recognized and that high quality standards are upheld in the field.
This global nonprofit organization’s mission is to improve healthcare through the optimal use of information technology and management systems.
IFHIMA, formerly known as IFHRO, supports health record professionals by serving as a forum for the exchange of information regarding health records, health information management and information technology. It is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO).
The NASA Pathways Intern Program provides students with the opportunity to explore NASA careers and gain meaningful developmental work experience. The program offers internship in most areas of NASA, including information technology. Interns may help design, develop, implement, and maintain software solutions; gain experience in information security and COMSEC; support web tools; and provide software application support.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency offers a variety of internships and co-op opportunities for computer science students. Requirements vary, so check the website listings for additional information on positions currently accepting applications. And, plan in advance, because applications are due nine to 12 months before the desired job start date.
The NSA's Computer Science Intern Program (CSIP) is 12-week paid internship open to students majoring in computer science or related disciplines. CSIP interns apply their computer science skills to NSA hardware and software systems on projects that contribute to NSA's mission. Internships culminate in a short presentation and technical paper.
The Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) selects outstanding junior or senior engineering/ computer science students, or students in engineering/ computer science graduate programs, from a nation-wide pool of applicants. The students spend nine weeks in the summer in Washington, D.C. learning how government officials make decisions on complex technological issues, and how engineers can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions.
The primary responsibility of a medical coder is to translate diagnoses and procedures to the correct coding for insurance claims. Solid education and training are necessary to become a skilled medical coder. For instance, because of the diversity among claims and the many different codes that could be entered, medical coders need strong knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology as well as the corresponding standardized medical codes and guidelines for diagnoses, services and procedures performed.
Medical coders can choose to specialize in a single code, or to obtain intermediate understanding of multiple codes. Active codes include:
Although specific daily responsibilities for medical coders may vary depending on the physician or size of the health care facility where one works, there are basic skills that all professionals in the field should have:
Familiarity with computers and technology: Medical coders must be comfortable with basic office technology such as computers, word processing software, telephones and fax machines. These professionals also need to have working knowledge of electronic health records (EHRs).
Strong administrative and organizational skills: Hospitals and other health care facilities can be hectic environments so medical coders need exemplary office administration and organizational skills in order to manage the many files and records that are passed around throughout the day while still juggling various administrative tasks.
Keen attention to detail: Medical coders need to accurately document information as well as be able to abstract other important patient information such as physicians’ names, dates of procedures and visits, etc.
Integrity: Because medical coders are exposed to confidential patient information, it is important to be honest, ethical and respectful of sensitive information.
Medical coders need to be familiar with the three main coding manuals: Current Procedural Terminology (or CPT) codes, ICD-9 codes and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (or HCPCS) codes. Knowledge of these codes is required to document diagnoses and procedures that were performed during a physician’s exam.
Medical coders also need to be familiar with medical coding crosswalks. Starting October 1, 2015, U.S. healthcare systems will upgrade to the next revision of diagnostic codes: ICD-10. A process known as crosswalking allows medical coders to translate a code from one system to another for a more seamless transition.
Medical billers play a significant role in a practice's revenue performance. These professionals collect and report all information concerning billing claims. In order to ensure that patients are billed correctly and a practice receives the proper reimbursement, medical billers need to have an understanding of medical codes and should be well versed in the complexities of various health insurance plans, regulations and compliance policies so that claims are filed and processed correctly.
Many of the skills that medical billers need overlap with the skills that are necessary for medical coding. For example, medical billers should be comfortable with basic office technology and computers. They should also be detail-oriented and highly organized to ensure the accuracy of billing claims. Other important skills include:
Strong written and verbal communications skills: Medical billers need to clearly document procedures and diagnoses as well as be able to effectively communicate patient information to other medical professionals and insurance companies.
Finance and data analysis skills: Medical billers have the potential to impact a practice's revenue performance. Having a strong understanding of finance, in addition to an understanding of medical insurance policies and claims processes, can help medical billers identify areas of improvement that could ultimately enhance the financial health of a practice.
Ability to work in a team setting: Medical billers interact with everyone from physicians to health insurance companies on a regular basis so a good-natured cooperative attitude can go a long way.
Because medical billers work closely with physicians and other health care professionals to document diagnoses and other patient information, it is important for these professionals to also have a solid understanding of CPT, ICD-9, ICD-10 and HCPCS codes.
Medical billers also need to understand the complexities of government programs and different medical insurance plans as well as claims and appeals processes. Knowledge of HIPAA privacy laws, regulatory policies and fraud and abuse compliance programs are also a must for those interested in pursing a career as a medical biller.