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2023 Best Online Associate in Medical Billing & Coding Programs

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 2/16/2023
2023 Best Online Associate Degrees in Medical Billing & Coding Badge

A major component of running a healthcare facility is to have an efficient medical billing and coding department. For students interested in health information and medical billing and coding, an online associate degree in medical billing and coding is the best way to enter a medical billing career. Prospective students can gain the knowledge and skills they need to get certified and obtain an entry-level role in the healthcare field. 

Each program covers medical terminology, human anatomy, health information management, and medical coding. Graduates with an associate degree in medical billing and coding can pursue careers like health information technologist, medical billing specialist, reimbursement coordinator, and insurance verification representative.

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2023 Best Online Associate Degrees in Medical Billing & Coding Badge
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Online Medical Billing & Coding Associate Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online Associate in Medical Billing & Coding Programs

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Rochester Community and Technical College 97 97 $40,015
# 2 #2 Metropolitan Community College 84 $34,894
# 3 #3 Stratford University 76 $33,169
# 4 #4 Bluegrass Community and Technical College 53 $29,595
# 5 #5 Berkeley College 53 $29,551
# 6 #6 Columbia Southern University 52 $29,524

#1 Rochester Community and Technical College

  • Salary Score: 97
  • Median Starting Salary: $40,015
  • Locations: Rochester (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) is a medium-sized, public institution offering an online Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology that requires 64 credit hours. This program prepares students for a career as a health information technician, which shares the same responsibilities as a medical biller or coder, like reviewing patient medical records and providing medical insurance coding. Sample classes include Medical Terminology for Health Professionals, Employment Strategies, and Pharmacology.

RCTC facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning through the learning management system, Brightspace, by way of D2L. Remote students can access academic advising, IT help, and disability services. The program’s admission requirements are an application and either a high school diploma or GED.

#2 Metropolitan Community College

  • Salary Score: 84
  • Median Starting Salary: $34,894
  • Locations: Omaha (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Metropolitan Community College (MCC) is a public institution with a medium-sized student population, where prospective students can pursue an online Associate in Applied Science in Health Information Management Systems - Medical Coding and Billing. Requiring 96 credit hours, this program prepares students to pursue entry-level positions in healthcare facilities as coding specialists. The program’s coursework includes Introduction to Medical Law and Ethics, Medical Terminology, and Medical Office Applications.

Online students at MCC complete coursework, delivered in asynchronous format on Ed2Go and UGotClass. Online student support includes academic advising, tutoring, and career services. The program’s admission requirements are an application, attending an information session, an interview, and a selection committee review.

#3 Stratford University

  • Salary Score: 76
  • Median Starting Salary: $33,169
  • Locations: Fairfax (VA)
  • Accreditation: ABHES

Stratford University (Stratford) is a small and private for-profit institution offering an online Associate of Applied Science in Medical Insurance, Billing and Coding, which totals 90 credit hours. Prospective students can expect to learn medical billing codes for health insurance companies and how to use software in order to process medical insurance billing. The program covers key areas, like filing claims, customer services, and querying physicians.

At Stratford, online students complete coursework on Moodle, which is delivered in an asynchronous format. This means that students can work through the material at their own pace throughout the course of the program. Online students can access tutoring, an online library, and other academic support. Admission requirements are an application, official transcripts, and proof of language proficiency.

#4 Bluegrass Community and Technical College

  • Salary Score: 53
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,595
  • Locations: Lexington (KY)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) is a medium-sized, public institution offering an online Associate of Applied Science in Medical Information Technology. Requiring 49 credit hours, this online degree program provides students with accounting, medical insurance coding, customer service, and record preparation skills. Word Processing Applications, Medical Terminology, and Medical Office Procedures are some examples of required online courses.

BCTC facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on the learning management system, Blackboard. Online student resources are tutoring and an online library. The program’s admission requirements include an application, official high school transcripts or GED scores, and ACT/SAT scores.

#5 Berkeley College

  • Salary Score: 53
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,551
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Berkeley College (Berkeley) is a medium-sized, private, for-profit institution that offers an online Associate in Applied Science in Health Services Administration - Medical Insurance, Billing, and Coding. Totaling 60 credit hours, this degree helps prepare students for certification in the medical coding field, like becoming a certified professional coder (CPT). Sample courses include Foundations of Health Services, Medical Terminology, and Hospital Coding.

At Berkeley, distance learners complete coursework delivered on Canvas in asynchronous and synchronous formats. Online student support includes academic advising, an online library, and career services. The program’s admission requirements are an application, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement.

#6 Columbia Southern University

  • Salary Score: 52
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,524
  • Locations: Orange Beach (AL)
  • Accreditation: DEAC

At Columbia Southern University (CSU) — a medium-sized, private, for-profit institution — students can pursue an online Associate of Science in Health Information Science - Medical Coding requiring 60 credit hours. The program provides students with the skills and tools to prepare them for medical coding careers in healthcare. The Medical Coding track offers classes like Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, and Introduction to Current Procedural Terminology.

CSU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning through the digital platform, Blackboard. Online student resources also include academic advising, a writing center, and career services. Admission requirements are an application and official transcripts.

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What Is an Online Associate in Medical Billing & Coding Degree?

An online medical billing and coding associate degree is a two-year program that helps you prepare for jobs in physicians' offices, hospitals, medical clinics, and insurance companies. The curriculum taught in this associate degree program helps familiarize you with medical insurance billing and claims procedures.

In a medical billing and coding program, you'll explore the U.S. medical coding system known as the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), which includes the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT). You'll also become familiar with the most current International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), which is ICD-11. These complex systems use unique strings of numerical codes to identify specific diagnoses for insurance claims, billing, and data analysis.

It takes approximately two years for full-time students to complete the required 60 semester credit hours in an online medical billing and coding associate degree program. Coursework generally includes 15 general education, 15 elective, and 30 core program credit hours. Programs typically don't include a capstone project as part of the graduation requirements. Students should qualify for entry-level billing and coding jobs and industry credentialing exams after graduating from a medical billing and coding associate degree program.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for an associate degree in medical billing and coding are similar to other two-year degrees and generally include the following:

  • A completed enrollment application and possibly a fee of approximately $50
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • College and military transcripts, as applicable
  • Standardized test scores, although many waive this requirement

Common Courses in a Medical Billing and Coding Program

Courses in an online medical billing and coding degree program support the curriculum that aims to prepare students with a thorough understanding of physiology, anatomy, biology, billing and coding technology, and medical terminology. This knowledge is imperative to understanding how to apply diagnosis and procedure coding to healthcare records, file insurance claims, and bill patients for services rendered by providers.

Clinical Documentation: Integrity and Quality

Coursework covers the importance of having accurate and complete data for analysis and presentation. Topics may also include quality assurance, utilization review, risk management, reimbursement, and ethics in the healthcare industry.

Computer Software Applications in Healthcare

Instruction explores the most commonly used software tools and applications used in healthcare data processing (including billing and coding), such as computer-assisted coding. Coursework also addresses the need for security in regard to health information.

Healthcare Delivery Systems 

This course introduces students to organizational, financial, and regulatory issues that may impact different healthcare delivery systems. Topics may include continuum of care, evolution and trends in managed healthcare, staffing, productivity, and quality improvement methods. 

Insurance Claims, Processing, and Adjudication 

Discussions acquaint students with the various types of insurance programs available and the billing formats and claim forms used by each. Assignments can help develop students' skills in mastering insurance billing and adjudication and reimbursement methodologies while maintaining regulatory compliance. 

What Can I Do With an Associate in Medical Billing and Coding?

An associate degree in medical billing and coding can prepare you for a career as a biller and coder in a variety of health organizations. Although job titles may vary from organization to organization, roles are similar.

Occupation Alternate Job Titles Description
Medical Records Specialists
  • Medical Biller
  • Medical Coder
  • Health Information Clerk
  • Medical Records Coordinator
  • Medical Records Clerk
These healthcare information specialists compile, process, and maintain patients' medical records and classify and code diagnoses for billing and data analysis. They play an integral role in the revenue cycle.
Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
  • Clinical Office Assistant
  • Medical Office Specialist Physician Office Specialist
In smaller offices, medical secretaries and administrative assistants may be responsible for coding and billing along with scheduling appointments, recording medical charts, and reporting.

While about one-third of medical records and health information specialists work in hospitals, others apply their extensive knowledge of coding classification systems to patient records in physician offices and outpatient care centers. Some may work as registrars in clinics that treat specific populations, such as cancer patients, reviewing patient records and pathology reports for accuracy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of those in this position is $46,660, and the job growth projection is 7% through 2030. 

While a bachelor's degree isn't required to apply for a position as a medical records or health information specialist, it may help individuals advance their careers and become medical and health services managers. This category includes health information managers who oversee billing, coding, and staff while also ensuring the safety and security of patient data. The median annual salary for all medical health and services managers is $101,340, with the top 10% earning more than $205,620. This is a high-growth field anticipating 28% job growth through 2030.

Opportunities for Career Advancement

Earning additional certifications or a four-year degree may help you with career advancement. For example, an online associate degree in medical billing and coding may be only the first step on your career path toward a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or healthcare management. These degrees can help prepare you for medical and health services manager roles. Furthering your education may help you obtain mid- to advanced-level billing and coding positions or other jobs within the healthcare system. 

Medical Billing and Coding Certifications

According to the BLS, no U.S. state requires medical billers and coders to have certification. However, many employers prefer to hire certified applicants to demonstrate competencies. Additionally, becoming certified may increase your earnings potential and opportunities for job growth. For example, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) notes that 75% of its members who hold certifications earn $50,000 or more annually.

Several organizations offer medical billing and coding certification exams for credentialing. Some of the most popular are the AHIMA, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), and the National Healthcare Association (NHA).

  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
  • Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
  • Certified Coding Specialist - Physician-Based (CCS-P)
  • Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
  • Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
  • Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP)
  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Outpatient Coder (COC)
  • Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
  • Certified Professional Biller (CPB)
  • Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS)
  • Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS)

How Much Does an Online Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree Cost?

The average annual total cost is $10,300 for all two-year institutions. However, tuition costs vary depending on the type of institution. For example, annual tuition for in-district community colleges averages $3,400, while tuition at a private two-year college can be as high as $25,000. For additional perspective, in-state tuition at a public four-year university is approximately $9,308.

There are other costs associated with a college education, such as school supplies and books, that you should consider when creating a budget and estimating expenses. For example, the average cost for textbooks and supplies at a community college is $1,420 per year. You may also have to upgrade your computer hardware to be able to complete assignments and study billing and coding software applications. These costs can add up quickly.

Is a Medical Billing and Coding Program Worth It?

The potential value of a medical billing and coding program will ultimately depend on your financial goals, career interests, and aptitudes. To help determine whether this program would be a suitable fit, Burning Glass Technologies, a data analytics company, has identified several skills employers look for when hiring billers and coders, which include customer service, technical aptitude, data entry, accounting, and attention to detail. If these skills are in your wheelhouse and you have an interest or prior experience in the medical field, billing and coding may be a worthwhile pursuit. However, there are other pros and cons to weigh when making this decision: 

Potential Benefits

  • You can complete a medical billing and coding program online. This can be a convenient way to learn targeted job skills if you have a busy schedule or live far from an accredited school. You can also take your certification exam online. 
  • Medical billing and coding is a growing field at a critical time. As healthcare becomes increasingly reliant on digital data, more health information specialists will be needed to organize the influx of information. Additionally, as the U.S. population continues to age, people will require more medical services, resulting in additional data needing to be processed. 
  • Several large national employers hire medical billers and coders, according to data from Burning Glass Technologies. For example, Guidehouse, Anthem Blue Cross, UnitedHealth Group, and Humana employ a majority of billers and coders. 

Potential Drawbacks

  • Coding is not as easy as it may seem. Tens of thousands of codes have been created to apply to various diagnoses and health conditions, and more are added each year. Each symptom and diagnosis is assigned a code, which are strung together to paint a clear picture of a patient's health. These coding structures often change, and it's up to you to keep your skills current beyond your initial training. 
  • To land a job, you may need certification and work experience in addition to education. While U.S. states do not require licensure for coders and billers, employers may only employ those who are certified, even for entry-level positions. Others may also want to see practical work experience, such as internships or externships
  • Medical billing and coding is a sedentary job, which can be unhealthy. This type of work requires sitting for long periods and typing, which can be stressful on the body and lead to health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. It'll take active measures to avoid these health risks, such as utilizing a standing desk or taking regular screen breaks.

How to Choose a Program

You'll want to consider choosing a program that is convenient and affordable. Online programs often accomplish both goals as they can be completed on your schedule and may cost less than on-campus programs by waiving on-campus fees or charging flat-rate tuition.

Choosing a program at an accredited school is also imperative. Employers often require their applicants to hold degrees from accredited institutions. In addition, it can allow you to transfer credits to another program if you choose to return to school. The U.S. Department of Education can verify a school's accreditation status.  

It's also a good idea to choose a program that meets industry standards set by the AHIMA and the AAPC because it lets employers know that you received adequate training.

Additionally, you can research student demographics and graduation and retention rates on College Scorecard to evaluate a school's overall performance and student outcomes. This information can help you make a well-rounded and informed decision.

FAQs About Online Associate Degrees in Medical Billing & Coding

What Degree Is Best for Medical Billing and Coding?

A degree that comes from an accredited college or university is best. This is often required by employers and is necessary if you want to transfer credits toward a bachelor's degree. You'll also want to ensure the program meets standards set by the AHIMA and AAPC.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Program?

It can take full-time students about two years to complete an associate in medical billing and coding degree program, which requires about 60 credit hours. Some students may want to consider another type of postsecondary education, which is a medical billing and coding certificate program.

Can I Become a Medical Coder Online?

Yes, you can become a medical coder online. Many community colleges and vocational schools throughout the U.S. offer online medical billing and coding certificate programs.

How Much Does a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Make?

According to the BLS, medical records specialists, including billing and coding professionals, earn an annual salary of $46,660.

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