2020 Best Online Medical Billing & Coding Certificates

By Taylor Nichols | Updated November 24, 2020
Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Certificate
Average Tuition: $18,439
Average Salary: $85,137

Medical billing and coding is an administrative position in healthcare, and is a good fit for those who are organized, analytical, and detail-oriented. Coding specialists translate patients' medical records into standardized codes, which are then processed and sent to insurance companies by billing specialists. This career path is the perfect opportunity for individuals who prefer technical and office-based tasks rather than working directly with patients. The need for medical billing and coding professionals is projected to grow by 8% over the next 10 years, and they make an average of $42,630 per year. Entry-level positions often only require a certification or associate degree, making medical billing and coding an appealing career choice. Our rankings list below of the best medical billing and coding programs can help you choose which program best fits your needs. Continue reading for more information on certification requirements and accreditation for medical billing and coding programs.

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2020 Most Affordable Online Colleges Offering Medical Billing & Coding Certificates

2020 Most Affordable Online Colleges Offering Certificate in Medical Billing & Coding Badge

The 25 most affordable online certificate programs in medical billing and coding programs can be found at these colleges and universities. Tuition at the #1 school, Vance-Granville Community College, is just $1,879 per year. Classes for this program include Diagnostic Coding, Medical Insurance & Billing, Medical Office Terms, and Procedure Coding. All schools on this list offer tuition rates under $6,000 per year.

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Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 $1,368
# 2 #2 $1,879
# 3 #3 $2,516
# 4 #4 $2,662
# 5 #5 $3,276
# 6 #6 $3,600
# 7 #7 $3,657
# 8 #8 $3,668
# 9 #9 $3,699
# 10 (tie) #10 (tie) $4,020
# 10 (tie) #10 (tie) $4,020
# 12 #12 $4,060
# 13 #13 $4,185
# 14 #14 $4,190
# 15 #15 $4,200
# 16 #16 $4,370
# 17 #17 $4,400
# 18 #18 $4,729
# 19 #19 $4,770
# 20 #20 $4,800
# 21 (tie) #21 (tie) $4,824
# 21 (tie) #21 (tie) $4,824
# 21 (tie) #21 (tie) $4,824
# 24 #24 $4,896
# 25 #25 $5,027
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2020 Online Colleges Offering Medical Billing & Coding Certificates - Ranking Details

#1 Vance-Granville Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,368
  • Locations: Henderson (NC)(and 3 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Vance-Granville Community College offers an online 24-credit Certificate in Medical Coding Specialist. Graduates will be prepared to take industry certification exams and work in entry-level coding positions in various medical facilities and insurance agencies. Individuals in this program will study diagnostic and procedure coding and medical terminology.

Coursework is delivered using Moodle, a learning management system through which students communicate with their instructor and classmates, take quizzes, and participate in interactive activities. Online students have access to career development resources, online tutoring, and academic advising.

The program has multiple start dates in July, August, September, or October. To apply, students with a high school education can submit an online application.

#2 Seminole State College of Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $1,879
  • Locations: Sanford (FL)(and 3 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Seminole State College of Florida offers a Technical Certificate in Medical Information Coder/Biller. The 37-credit program can be completed in approximately one-and-a-half years. Graduates can apply credits to an associate degree or become medical coders responsible for analyzing medical records, assigning codes to procedures and diagnoses, and processing patient billing and insurance.

Program faculty have academic credentials and professional experience in the healthcare field. While most classes are available online through the Canvas learning management system, some courses may have on-campus requirements. Resources for online students include career counseling, advising, and online tutoring.

Students must submit an online application and transcripts to apply. Students should also have completed the appropriate prerequisite coursework for the core classes.

#3 Ogeechee Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,516
  • Locations: Statesboro (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Certificate in Medical Billing Clerk program from Ogeechee Technical College prepares students for an entry-level medical billing or coding career healthcare field. The curriculum also includes courses in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. Graduates will be qualified to take several certification exams within the American Health Information Management Association. Students typically complete the program in two semesters, earning a minimum of 24 credits.

Ed2Go is used to deliver course material and also functions as the management system for students to submit their assignments, take quizzes, and participate in classroom discussions. Distance learners have access to academic resources such as tutoring, career services, career development support, and counseling.

Prospective students must be at least 17 years old and have standardized test scores that meet minimum requirements. If they meet the qualifications, students can submit an online application through the college’s website.

#4 Oconee Fall Line Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,662
  • Locations: Sandersville (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) offers a Technical Certificate in Medical Billing Clerk. The program requires two semesters to complete and requires a minimum of 20 credit hours. Students train in the skills needed for proficiency in medical insurance and reimbursement practices in the healthcare field.

Using the Blackboard learning platform, students participate in classroom discussions and activities, take quizzes, communicate with instructors, and access class materials. Technical support is available for online students and resources such as tutoring, career services, and academic advising.

Interested applicants need to take an entrance exam (or provide scores from previous assessments) and submit an online application with all academic transcripts.

#5 University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Annual Tuition: $3,276
  • Locations: Fairbanks (AK)(and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) offers an Occupational Endorsement in Medical Billing and an Occupational Endorsement in Medical Coding. Graduates of both programs qualify for entry-level coding and billing positions in various healthcare settings. Students in the 12-credit medical billing program learn about medical terminology, the reimbursement process, and inpatient and outpatient processes. The 13-credit medical coding endorsement teaches students how to analyze medical records and assign diagnosis codes.

Both certificate programs use the Blackboard learning platform to deliver course material, where students can complete assignments, view grades, and communicate with professors and classmates. All online courses offered through UAF are designed to be completed asynchronously, with no set times that students need to be online. Online students have access to academic advisors, tech support, tutoring services, and library resources.

Interested applicants must have a GED or high school transcripts. Prospective students can submit an online application and connect with an academic advisor to receive guidance through the admissions process.

#6 Southeastern Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,600
  • Locations: Vidalia (GA)(and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Southeastern Technical College (STC) offers a Technical Certificate of Credit in Healthcare Billing and Reimbursement Assistant. The program requires 18-22 credits, which can be completed in four semesters. The curriculum includes foundation courses and some elective options, with topics in healthcare coding, computer literacy, medical terminology, and human diseases.

Most online coursework is delivered through the Blackboard learning management software, where students can access videos and presentations and participate in discussion boards. Online classes can have both asynchronous and synchronous components. Online students have access to academic advisors, technical assistance, and A Lending Library for individuals seeking affordable textbooks.

To apply to STC’s online certificate program, candidates must submit official high school transcripts (or GED equivalent), complete an application, and satisfy placement testing standards in reading, writing, and algebra.

#7 Edgecombe Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,657
  • Locations: Tarboro (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Edgecombe Community College’s Diploma in Health Information Technology offers a specialization in Coding. The fully-online program requires 43 credit hours to complete. Students learn how to code diagnoses, coordinate costs, monitor policy, and perform research. To graduate, students complete a supervised practicum experience within a clinical setting. Graduates of the program can sit for the Certified Coding Specialist exams.

Online Coursework is asynchronous and is delivered through the Moodle learning management platform. Over four semesters, students take classes in health law, anatomy, and coding. Online students have access to Edgecombe’s digital library, free Microsoft Office software, 24/7 Moodle technical support, and a tutoring center.

New students must complete an application, provide official high school transcripts (or GED equivalent), and provide any applicable post-secondary transcripts. Once accepted, students attend an online orientation session and meet with an admissions counselor for academic advising and an individual graduation plan.

#8 Wallace State Community College-Hanceville

  • Annual Tuition: $3,668
  • Locations: Hanceville (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Wallace State Community College-Hanceville offers a fully-online Certificate in Medical Coding program. The curriculum requires that students complete 48 credits over four semesters and covers topics in diagnostics, pharmacology, anatomy, and health data. Graduates are eligible to take the national Certified Coding Associate examination.

Online coursework is asynchronous and delivered through the Blackboard learning management platform. Students will complete a lab component and a professional practicum before graduation. Online learners have access to Wallace State’s IT Help Desk, career services, e-tutoring, and the library’s digital resources.

To apply, prospective students must have a minimum score of 17 on the ACT exam and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Prospective students should submit a completed application and official high school transcripts and college transcripts, if applicable. Upon admission, students should acquire a valid CPR certification.

#9 California State University-Bakersfield

  • Annual Tuition: $3,699
  • Locations: Bakersfield (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University-Bakersfield (CSUB) offers an online Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing program that prepares graduates for the Certified Professional Coder or Certified Coding Associate designation. The 640-hour program is approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Students learn about the foundations of the health information management and reimbursement process, biomedical sciences, and medical code training. To graduate, students must complete a 60-hour coding practicum.

Online content is available through the CareerStep learning platform, where students can access assigned readings, quizzes, discussion boards, and homework. Classes are asynchronous and self-paced; students can complete the program in four-month with full-time study but have up to a year to complete the training. Online students have access to technical support, a library of industry codebooks, 3M coding software, 3M reference library, academic advising, and disability services.

Admission is offered on a rolling basis. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and submit either high school transcripts or GED Certificate or pass the Career Step Pre-enrollment Assessment test. No prior coding experience is necessary to apply.

#10 (tie) Lenoir Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,020
  • Locations: Kinston (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Lenoir Community College’s (LCC) offers an online Medical Coding, Billing, & Insurance Certificate where students can specialize in medical coding, billing, or insurance. To graduate, students must complete fifteen credits of coursework, including nine credits in core courses and six credits of major courses. Class topics include procedure coding, diagnostic coding, and medical office terminology.

Online coursework is delivered through the Moodle learning platform, where students can access assignments and quizzes. Online classes are asynchronous, and students are responsible for meeting due dates. Various resources are offered to online students, including career coaching, academic writing support services, and 24/7 technical support.

New students can complete an online orientation on accessing and navigating online coursework. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent and submit official transcripts.

#10 (tie) San Juan College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,020
  • Locations: Farmington (NM)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Certificate in Medical Insurance Coder/Biller program at San Juan College (SJC) prepares graduates to take the American Health Information Management Association's Certified Coding Associate exam. The 30-credit hour program must be completed in two years and includes classes in pharmacology, physician coding, and medical reimbursement practices. A professional practice experience and coding seminar must be completed before graduation.

Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning management platform, which hosts a variety of online tools, including Zoom, Techsmith Knowmia, Canvas Conferences, and more. Classes may have synchronous and asynchronous components. Online learners have access to the Advising and Counseling Center, the Career Center, enrollment services, the TRiO Center for first-generation and low-income students, and a Veteran Center.

To apply to San Juan College, candidates must have competent computer skills, take the Accuplacer exam, and complete prerequisite courses at SJC. Students may be accepted to SJC but are not guaranteed admission to the competitive medical coder/biller certificate program. If accepted into the program, students must maintain a 2.75 GPA.

#12 Cowley County Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,060
  • Locations: Arkansas City (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Certificate in Medical Coding (Vocational Certificate B) program from Cowley County Community College educates students in the international classification standards for healthcare diagnoses and procedures. The curriculum includes classes in procedure terminology, reimbursement methods, and ICD-10 coding. Graduates are eligible to apply for national certification in the field.

Cowley provides an online learning platform that is competency-based and workforce specific: students will use the same software used by professional medical coders. Online course content is managed through Blackboard learning management software and follows an asynchronous format. Students can interact with faculty over email or phone.

Online students receive virtual tutoring, academic advising, and enrollment assistance. The application is free, and students may begin taking classes at Cowley while still in high school.

#13 Central Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,185
  • Locations: Grand Island (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Central Community College offers an online Diploma in Medical Coding through the Health Sciences Department. Students learn how to analyze medical records and transcribe diagnoses and procedures into relevant codes for billing and insurance. The program requires 41 credit hours to complete and covers topics in pharmacology, disease conditions, and medical coding classification systems.

Online courses that follow an asynchronous format and are delivered through the Moodle learning management platform. Students must meet basic achievement requirements, ten credits of general education core, and thirty-one major courses. Online students have access to library resources, Moodle training workshops, an IT help desk, disability services, and online tutoring.

Individuals transferring from another program at Central Community College must have at least a 2.0 GPA. Candidates should complete an online application and a pre-enrollment assessment to apply.

#14 Alexandria Technical & Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,190
  • Locations: Alexandria (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Individuals pursuing a program online for medical coding and billing have two options from Alexandria Technical and Community College: a Certificate in Medical Coding Specialist or a Diploma in Medical Coding Specialist. Students in either program learn proper medical terminology and documentation. Other class topics include anatomy, pharmacology, finance, and coding. Graduates from either program are eligible to take the American Health Information Management Association's Certified Coding Associate exam.

The diploma program requires four semesters and 45 credit hours to complete, while the certificate requires three semesters and a total of 19 credit hours to graduate. Online coursework is delivered through the Brightspace learning management platform, and Zoom video-conferencing is used as needed.

Online learners work with an advisor to develop their graduation plan and have access to technical assistance, veteran's services, online tutoring, and resources from the school's library. To apply, students must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

#15 Barton County Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,200
  • Locations: Great Bend (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Barton County Community College's Certificate in Medical Coding program trains prospective healthcare professionals to code diagnoses and procedures for patient billing and insurance. Graduates will be qualified to apply for entry-level positions at hospitals, behavior health clinics, or physician's offices. Successful graduates are eligible to take the Certified Coding Associate exam and the Certified Professional Coder exam.

The online certificate is a 44-credit hour program and includes topics in pharmacology, keyboarding, and legal issues in healthcare. Assignments are completed asynchronously, and students may ask instructors questions via phone or email.

Online students receive academic advising, virtual tutoring, veteran services, a career center, 24/7 technical assistance, disability services, and electronic resources form the Barton Library. Interested candidates should submit a completed application to apply.

#16 University of California-San Diego

  • Annual Tuition: $4,370
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Medical Coding Certificate from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is a fully online program offered through UC San Diego Extension. The 27-credit hour program includes eleven courses that can be completed in one year. Students gain an understanding of medical, legal, and ethical issues, the ability to translate physician diagnoses and procedures into medical code, and auditing skills for medical accuracy. Graduates can seek certification through several national exams to become a Certified Coding Specialist or Certified Coding Associate.

UCSD's online content is managed by Canvas learning management software. Online classes follow an asynchronous format with pre-recorded lectures and assignments available to students each week. Online students have access to academic advisors, veteran's education benefits, disability accommodations, and career services.

To be considered, candidates must have a high school diploma (or GED equivalent) and have completed prerequisite courses in medical coding, medical terminology, and anatomy and physiology.

#17 West Georgia Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,400
  • Locations: Waco (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

West Georgia Technical College (WGTC) has a Certificate in Medical Billing Clerk and a Certificate in Medical Coding available entirely online. Offered through the School of Business and Public Services, the 22-credit hour medical billing clerk certificate emphasizes administrative services, coding, and anatomy. The 24-credit hour medical coding program teaches students how to accurately and confidentially manage patient medical records.

Online coursework is available through the Blackboard learning management platform. Courses follow an asynchronous format; however, students are responsible for completing assignments, quizzes, and exams. Online learners at WGTC have access to the library's electronic resources, accessibility services, a technical help desk, academic advising, and free Microsoft Office software.

Interested individuals can attend a virtual open house for enrollment assistance. To apply, students must complete an online application and submit official transcripts and placement test scores.

#18 Minnesota West Community and Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,729
  • Locations: Granite Falls (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Diploma in Medical Coding Specialist from Minnesota West Community and Technical College (Minnesota West) is available entirely online. The program requires that 34 credit hours are taken over three semesters. Students learn how to code diagnoses and analyze patient records and physician notes. Class subjects include pharmacology, anatomy, medical billing, and medical classification coding systems.

Online course content is facilitated by Desire2Learn’s Brightspace system, a learning management platform. Classes are asynchronous, and students must meet assignment deadlines. Resources and support services for students include access to advisors, veteran's benefits, and an online Help Desk for technical assistance.

To apply, interested individuals should complete an online application (with fee), submit official high school transcripts (or GED), and complete the Accuplacer assessment. An online orientation is available to new students. It is recommended that prospective students have some prior knowledge of working with spreadsheets and databases.

#19 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,770
  • Locations: Fennimore (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC) offers an online Medical Coding Specialist Technical Diploma. Students work with data and improve their medical terminology and communication skills to prepare for entry-level healthcare positions. Online class topics include digital literacy, basic anatomy, and coding. The diploma requires 33-34 credits to complete, with online classes running for eight or sixteen weeks.

Online classes are hosted on the Schoology learning management platform, where students can access class materials, submit assignments, participate in discussion boards, and take exams. Resources available to online students include academic coaches, an IT service desk, and digital library resources.

Interested candidates should submit an application (with fee), official transcripts, and ACT scores (or take the Accuplacer exam). Some prior learning credits may apply for those with previous college, volunteer, or professional experiences.

#20 Georgia Northwestern Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,800
  • Locations: Rome (GA)(and 3 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Certificate in Medical Coding from Georgia Northwestern Technical College is a technical certificate program designed to offer students advanced training for entry into the field. The program is available entirely online and requires 24 credit hours to graduate. The curriculum covers topics in medical billing, human disease, and anatomy.

Online classes are delivered through the Blackboard learning management platform. Online learners have access to several student resources, including 24/7 online tutoring, program advising, veteran educational services, disability accommodations, career services, and additional support services for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

A high school diploma or a GED is not required to enroll, though students should submit high school transcripts (or educational equivalent) and be at least 16 years old. The Accuplacer exam (or ACT or SAT scores) may also be required.

#21 (tie) Central Carolina Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,824
  • Locations: Sanford (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) offers an online Certificate in Medical Office Insurance Coding. The certificate in insurance coding is designed for those seeking employment in the healthcare industry who enjoy working with technology. Students learn the fundamentals of medical terminology, legal issues, billing, and coding and refine research and writing skills. Additionally, students will complete an internship requirement before graduating.

Online learning is facilitated through the Blackboard learning management system. Individuals interested in enrolling at CCCC can demo an online course before applying. Once accepted, online students have access to an academic advisor for degree planning.

To apply, individuals must complete a residency determination form, complete an academic assessment, submit a completed application (with fee), submit official transcripts, and attend an orientation via phone or video-conferencing format.

#21 (tie) Fayetteville Technical Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,824
  • Locations: Fayetteville (NC)(and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) offers a fully online Certificate in Inpatient Medical Coding Specialist. The 18-credit program can be completed in two semesters. Students take courses in medical terminology and reimbursement methods in a hospital setting. Graduates are prepared to take the CPC-H coding certification exam.

Online coursework is asynchronous and hosted on the Blackboard learning management platform. Online students have access to the Student Learning Center and NetTutor services for math and English tutoring.

Students are encouraged to apply for the fall semester. To be considered for admissions, students must have a high school diploma, submit official transcripts, and complete an Accuplacer exam to determine academic readiness.

#21 (tie) Gaston College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,824
  • Locations: Dallas (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Gaston College offers a fully-online Certificate in Medical Office Administration - Medical Billing and Coding. The 16-credit certificate program equips students with skills in medical coding and terminology. Graduates are prepared for entry-level careers in the healthcare field.

Online coursework is asynchronous, and students are responsible for completing their work independently and submitting assignments online. Classes are hosted with Blackboard learning management software. Online students have access to virtual tutoring and technical services.

Online students can work with an admissions specialist for assistance in enrollment.

To apply, candidates must be 18 or older and have a high school diploma. Students must complete an application, submit transcripts, and take placement examinations.

#24 Gogebic Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $4,896
  • Locations: Ironwood (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Gogebic Community College offers an online, 42-credit Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing Specialist program that can be completed in two years. Class topics include medical terminology, anatomy, health insurance, and computer applications. Graduates train for entry-level positions in the healthcare field, performing medical coding and processing insurance claims.

Online coursework is delivered through the Moodle learning management platform and follows an asynchronous format; students may complete assignments on their own time and meet weekly deadlines. Online students can work with an academic advisor, have access to career services and disability services, and benefit from TRiO programs for low-income and first-generation students. Also available are electronic library resources, veterans' services, and academic tutoring.

To be considered for admission, students must complete an application, submit official high school transcripts (or educational equivalent), and complete assessment testing. Students must maintain a C average once accepted into the program.

#25 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

  • Annual Tuition: $5,027
  • Locations: Shell Lake (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) offers an online Technical Diploma in Medical Billing Specialist and an online Technical Diploma in Medical Coding Specialist. The 29-credit medical coding program can be completed in one year and covers topics in data collection, computer applications, medical coding, and reimbursement tasks. The medical billing program is 26 credits over three or four semesters. Participating students will be able to perform administrative and insurance-based functions in a medical office setting.

Online coursework is delivered through the Blackboard learning management platform. Classes are asynchronous so students can study and complete assignments when convenient, but must meet deadlines for projects and homework. Online students have access to career services, veteran student resources, disability accommodations, and free Microsoft Office tools.

To apply, students must submit a completed application form (with fee) and official transcripts. Academic credits may be awarded for previous college or professional experience. A virtual orientation is offered to new online students.

Online Medical Billing & Coding Degree Overview & Career Information

Certificates take about one year to complete and include courses in popular coding systems, medical software, medical terminology, and insurance and reimbursement. Students learn how to translate medical diagnoses into codes that can be used for medical payments. The associate degree takes two years to complete and includes the courses required during the certificate program, as well as general education and healthcare administration courses. Graduates of these programs can become medical coders and health information technicians.

Medical coding and billing specialists gather and process patient information, including medical history, examination results, symptoms, diagnostic tests, treatment history, and more. Once they obtain this history, medical coders are then responsible for ensuring the accuracy and patient confidentiality of these files as they present them to healthcare providers or insurance agencies. The main responsibility of medical coders is to create claims that match diagnoses, treatments, and procedures with the corresponding numeric codes. This information is entered into a database and then sent off to an insurance carrier, where it will be approved or denied. If all of the documentation is accurate, the claim will be approved, and the healthcare provider will be reimbursed. In the case that the claim is denied, the medical coder assumes the additional responsibility of investigating why the claim was rejected and making any updates to the claim.

Online Certificates in Medical Billing & Coding

Medical billing and coding schools offer online certificate and diploma courses that explore the systems and programs used in medical billing and instruct students on the different fields and varieties of medical billing. Students interested in applying to a certificate program typically must have a high school diploma or GED. The school may request official transcripts and general college entrance exam scores as part of the application process. Most certificate programs can be completed in nine months to one year.

Medical billing and coding certificates include classes in clinical classification systems, coding practices, data security, computerized patient record systems, health data management, health services organization and delivery, healthcare confidentiality and privacy, information technology and systems, legal and ethical issues in healthcare, quality management procedures, reimbursement methodologies, risk management, statistical software, physician-based medical coding, hospital-based medical coding, medical billing and software, medical terminology, and physician-based chart auditing. Other courses in the program may include hospital case studies, classification of diseases, healthcare data quality and management, healthcare reimbursement, and healthcare information management and supervision. Professional experience is an essential component of the training required to become a medical billing and coding specialist. Depending on the program selected, some certificate completion requirements may include a practicum or internship to reinforce instruction.

Graduates from accredited medical billing and coding certificate programs will be prepared for entry-level positions as a medical billing clerk or specialist, a medical coder, or an insurance claims analyst at doctors' offices, clinics, or insurance companies. Some medical billers and coders choose to work as independent contractors and provide services from their home.

Educational Requirements for Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Medical coding & billing careers often appeal to those individuals who do not have the time, finances, or desire to pursue bachelor's degrees, as the requirements for admission to a certificate or associate degree program are minimal. Most programs require only a high school diploma or GED to be accepted. Basic keyboarding and word-processing skills, familiarity with technology, and a knack for details are also valuable skills for beginning medical coders. Students can complete their entire education online or at a community college, often on a part-time basis, in two years or less. Specialized professional schools often offer these degrees or training programs and can provide assistance to students who seek internship opportunities or career placement after graduation.

Medical coding & billing programs are characteristically hands-on and practical. Most associate degree programs will require core classes in mathematics, general sciences, and English. In contrast, online certificate programs tend to have a curriculum that is solely geared toward medical coding and billing. Students will take technology classes that help them learn to navigate electronic health record programs correctly. Some programs may also offer classes that deal in paper records, though this is far less common today. Medical billing and coding students develop a comprehensive understanding of healthcare informatics and health informatics applications.

Basic courses in anatomy and physiology provide medical billing and coding students with a solid introduction to the medical field and help familiarize them with many of the terms they'll eventually come to know very well. Among the most essential classes students will take are those related to medical terminology and billing. Once students learn the medical codes associated with various services and treatments, they may use software to determine how much a patient or insurance company should be billed. There are several coding systems that students must learn, including those used for cancer, ambulatory calls, or long-term patient care. Students learn how to utilize diverse technologies to capture, analyze, store, and retrieve medical data, and they must be able to work efficiently with these systems while also maintaining the confidentiality of their patients' records.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Medical Billing and Coding Program

The US Department of Education recognizes several private, nongovernmental accreditation agencies as having the authority to evaluate the academic merit of colleges and universities, including those that offer medical billing and coding programs. When researching online certificate and associate degree programs, prospective students should narrow down their options by selecting programs offered at accredited institutions. Accreditation signifies that a school meets high academic standards, maintains current research, and hires highly qualified instructors to teach its courses.

The Council on Higher Education Accreditation is a nationally recognized association of accrediting agencies, and their database of accredited colleges and universities is available on their website. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools is also recognized by the USDE and specializes in accrediting schools whose primary focus is occupational or career-oriented diploma and degree programs. They, too, offer a database of accredited institutions.

Certification Requirements for Medical Billing and Coding Careers

Though certification isn't legally required for medical coders in most states, it is highly recommended. An official certification designation on your resume can increase your job prospects and show potential employers that you are committed to the profession. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) reports that, compared to noncertified coders, Certified Professional Coders (CPCs) earn an average of 20 percent more and have a greater chance of being hired.

AAPC offers three certifications for medical billing and coding specialists: Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Professional Coder - Hospital Outpatient (CPC-H), and Certified Professional Coder - Payer (CPC-P). Additional credentials are also available for medical billers and coders to demonstrate superior knowledge in specialized areas such as cardiology, dermatology, pediatrics, emergency department, and internal medicine billing and coding. The requirements to sit for the CPC exams include current AAPC membership, two years of experience working as a medical billing and coding specialist, and 36 hours of continuing education units every two years to maintain the certification. An associate degree is not required, but it is recommended.

The Board of Medical Specialty Coding and Compliance offers a certification for Specialty Coding Professionals (SCP) with at least two years of specialty coding experience and Advanced Coding Specialists (ACS) with at least three to five years of specialty coding experience. To maintain either of these certifications, specialists must complete 20 continuing education units each year.

The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS) offers a Certified Basic Medical Coding Specialist (CBMCS) certification and specialty certification in many areas, such as pain management, podiatry, family practice, and obstetrics and gynecology. PAHCS does not require applicants to complete an academic program before they take the certification exam, but 24 continuing education units are required every two years to maintain certification.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) currently has two certification options, and each of them is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential is offered for coding professionals who have experience working in both hospital and physician offices, and applicants must have a high school diploma. The Certified Coding Specialist - Physician-based (CCS-P) credential is for coding professionals who have more experience specifically in outpatient clinics rather than hospitals. The CCS-P certification requires candidates to have either a prior credential, an in-depth coding education, two years of work experience, or a combination of one year of work experience and a prior certification. To maintain certification, AHIMA requires certificate holders to complete 20 continuing education units every two years.

Online Medical Transcription Degrees

Medical transcriptionists and medical billing and coding professionals both play an important role in the management of health information. While medical billing and coding professionals are responsible for assigning numerical codes to patient diagnoses, medical procedures, and other sensitive healthcare information for insurance and billing purposes, medical transcriptionists create written copies of audio recordings made by doctors and other medical professionals.

Online medical transcription degree programs teach students how to understand medical terminology, transcribe the results of medical tests, and work with voice recognition software. Programs are available at the certificate or associate degree level via community colleges and technical schools.

Online certificates in medical transcription are a solid training option for students who want to hit the job market as quickly as possible. These programs take approximately one year and prepare graduates for entry-level positions by training them in the transcription of a number of different types of medical records. Courses cover medical terminology, transcription formatting, and computer applications. Most programs require that students transcribe sample medical records from a variety of medical specialties so that graduates leave the certificate program with practical skills.

Two-year associate degrees in medical transcription cover the professionally oriented curriculum of the certificate as well as several general education classes. Associate programs introduce students to topics such as pharmacology for medical office professionals, word processing, medical terminology, business English, medical science, anatomy and physiology, and transcription methods. Online health information technician and medical transcription associate degrees often require an internship or professional practice experience in a medical office.

Medical transcription skills are often covered in health information technology (IT) associate degree programs, which discuss medical records management, medical billing, and medical coding, as well as transcription. Health IT professionals provide an array of administrative services in medical offices. These associate degree programs can be a good choice for those interested in coding who want a wider array of job opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Billing Coding Degrees

Which pays more, medical billing or medical coding?

As they are sometimes combined into one role, there is little pay difference between medical billing and medical coding. Salaries will depend more on location, employer, and level of education or work experience. Larger employers, such as health systems, large group practices, and hospitals pay more on average than private and small group practices. In 2019, medical billers and coders made the most money in California, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Can you get a medical coding job without a degree?

Yes. Most employers look for some formal education, such as a certificate or associate degree. It is possible to get a job without credentials, but it will likely be difficult. While a bachelor’s or master’s degree is not necessary for a job in the field, holding a degree will likely lead to higher wages.

Do medical billers work from home?

Medical billing and coding can be done from home, depending on your employer. Some organizations will hire contractors to work from home, while others may allow their full-time employees to work remotely.

Is medical billing and coding hard to learn?

Medical billing and coding may sound complex, but the most difficult aspect of it is the sheer number of codes you’ll be working with. Professionals in the industry work with thousands of codes across multiple changing code sets. Medical coders do not need to memorize these codes, as there are reference books and software available to ensure accuracy.

References

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