Medical Billing & Coding Training: Degrees, Program Options & Accreditation

Find out which degree type is right for you. Plus, read information on accreditation.

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Medical Billing and Coding Degree Options

Most medical billers and coders entering the profession hold a two-year associate’s degree. Because this career path is in high demand, you’ll find a variety of schools offering medical billing and coding degree options, including diploma, certificate, associate’s, and bachelor’s degrees.

When deciding which one is right for you, you should consider several different factors that could influence your choice, including family obligations, salary expectations and needs, and future career plans. If you are interested in management positions, earning a bachelor’s degree in health information management or a related subject will help.

You’ll want to consider the different facets of each type of degree program. For example, a certificate program will allow you to enter the workforce quicker, but you may earn a higher salary with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

  • Certificate or Diploma: Certificate and diploma programs generally take nine months to one year to complete. These programs are offered by career colleges and community colleges. Career college programs usually have a faster time to completion.
  • Associate’s degree: Associate’s programs last two years and provide general education curriculum that goes beyond medical billing and coding degree information. Both career colleges and community colleges offer associate’s degree programs. If you are planning on advancing your education later in your career, the credits you earn while in your associate’s program courses will count toward earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
  • Bachelor’s degree: At the bachelor’s level, colleges and universities offer programs in health information management and health care administration, which take four years to complete and provide other general education curriculum. Earning a bachelor’s degree will provide you with greater career options and can qualify you for management positions.

Courses

It’s important to choose a well-rounded medical billing and coding training program at a quality school. In addition to academic knowledge, however, you’ll also need plenty of real-world practice. So you should also look for a program that allows you to complete an externship in a hospital, doctor’s office or other medical setting. This hands-on learning experience will be invaluable as you start your career.

As a medical billing and coding specialist, you’ll need expertise in a wide range of areas—from anatomy and physiology to insurance claim procedures and medical office administration—in order to do your job. With this in mind, a typical medical billing and coding program will include the following classes:

Anatomy and Physiology: Anatomy and physiology will give you a basic understanding of the human body’s organ systems, their functions and how they work together.

Insurance Claim Procedures: All medical billing and coding courses will offer a version of this class, which will train you in the standard procedures for filing an insurance claim.

Medical Coding: Typical coding workshops in a medical billing and coding course will teach you how to apply Current Procedural Technology (CPT), International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes.

Medical Office Administration: Provides basic knowledge of how to keep a medical office running smoothly. You will learn how to take care of routine tasks such as greeting patients, scheduling appointments and handling other various clerical work.

Medical Office Technology: Included with most medical billing and coding courses, this class will teach you how to use typical medical office equipment and software.

Medical Terminology: This course will train you in the proper names for human anatomy, bodily processes, diseases and related medical procedures.

Getting Your Medical Billing & Coding Education Online

Medical billing and coding is a great degree to get online, since a lot of the coursework requires a good deal of memorization. Studying and testing at your own pace can be less intimidating for some students than being in a classroom. Of note is the fact that later on you may be able to earn professional certifications online as well. These can help you specialize in an area of healthcare billing and coding.

Read some interesting pointers that may help you decide whether an online medical billing and coding degree is for you.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

The American Health Information Management Association Foundation of Research and Education (FORE) offers scholarships to outstanding undergrads. You may also find medical billing and coding scholarships being offered at the schools to which you apply.

Medical Billing and Coding School Accreditation

If you wish to become professionally certified (and it’s recommended that you do), be sure you’re enrolled in an accredited program.

It’s a sign that an institution ascribes to, believes in—and has met—an external set of basic criteria for its programs. In all cases, it indicates that threshold standards are adhered to in a fashion that provides a base of academic strength and operational integrity.

For an accredited medical billing school to maintain its status, they must be able to show educational quality and educational improvements.

The three agencies that specifically accredit medical billing and coding programs are:

What Purpose Does Accreditation Serve?

The purpose of accreditation is multi-fold. Here’s why it’s important:

  • Accreditation helps to determine an institution’s quality standards, and whether it meets or exceeds them.
  • Helps students assess whether the school or program is acceptable for enrollment.
  • Determines whether your credits will transfer to another school.Determines your eligibility for federal financial aid.

There are also regional accrediting agencies, which will vary depending on your area. These include:

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NASC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Think Long-Term

Medical billing and coding accreditation is more than just a sign that you’ll be getting a quality education from your school. It will also open doors for you in the future should you choose to continue your education. For instance, if you have your associate’s degree, and you decide to go back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree, your credits from an accredited medical billing school will transfer to other accredited institutions. However, if your school wasn’t accredited, you may not be able to transfer all your credits to your new school.

Choosing an accredited medical billing school can save you time and tuition in the long run. Keep this in mind as you search for your medical billing and coding program.

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