Medical Billing and Coders serve important roles in the accuracy of patients, physicians records and reimbursement from insurance companies. We’ve all seen the “super bills” at the doctor’s office, which is the coding used to determine a patient’s diagnosis, laboratory work and type of office visit. These codes are important for accuracy in billing and insurance reimbursement; and, the proper use of these codes, such as the International Classification of Diseases 10th edition (ICD-10) and Current Procedural Codes (CPT), is critical in the proper documentation for clinical services provided.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates this career will experience a 15% job growth between 2014-2024 and median salaries are around $37,000 annually for trained Medical Billing and Coders.
Training to become a biller/coder requires specific education in not only coding and billing procedures, but a familiarity with anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, health data information and reimbursement requirements. A postsecondary certificate or diploma in this field is preferred and may be received by enrolling in programs offered by technical, vocational or community colleges. Pursuing an associates degree in this field will give you a leg up on pursuing a bachelors degree later on.
Paying for additional education can be daunting; but, there are ways to ease the burden. For instance, many states are offering free tuition for residents attending a community college to receive an Associate’s degree. Obtaining an online degree will help reduce the cost as well and allows you to continue to work while advancing your education. There are other options as well.
If you’re currently working in a healthcare field, you may find your employer provides reimbursement to you if your coursework will help you advance in your current position. Your Human Resources department will be able to guide you.
Federal Financial Aid
Federal Student Financial Aid may be available for your educational pursuit, if you’re working toward an Associate’s degree at a community college. Check with your admissions counselor to see if the program you chose might allow you to qualify for federal assistance. You will need to complete Federal Student Aid form offered online.
Veterans, Active Military, Spouses and Dependents
Schools are increasingly attracting military personnel by offering tuition discounts for active, veterans and/or military spouses or dependents. Information on military discounts typically is explained on the school webpage.
When you start looking at online schools, it’s important that you chose a school that holds accreditation from an independent review agency, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) or the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Accreditation provides assurance that the program meets minimum standards of educational quality.
Best Medical Degrees has researched and identified 10 affordable, online Associates degrees in Medical Billing and Coding. Ranked by tuition cost, accreditation and length of program, this list is a good starting point in your search.
1. Northwestern Technical College
Northwestern Technical College is a Minnesota based college, founded in 1965 as a training school for local workers. Currently, the school offers 33 certificates, 16 diplomas, 19 Associates of Applied Science (AAS) and five Associate of Science degrees. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers an online Applied Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding.
Classes focus on anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, medical coding (ICD-10), insurance, U.S. health systems, writing, bioethical issues, business communication, customer service and medical office administration. CPT and HCPCS and psychology.
Length of Program: 60 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,150 (per year)
2. Herzing University
Herzing University offers an online Associate of Applied Science in Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist degree. Coursework concentration includes studies in diagnosis coding, procedure coding, healthcare systems and operation, medical terminology for healthcare professionals and pathophysiology and pharmacology.
Herzing University, a non profit school located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was established as a computer training institute in 1965 and is holds accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. Herzing University has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report for its online business programs and consistently is ranked as a “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs’ list.
Length of Program: 61 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $6,280 (per year)
3. Beckfield College
In operation for 30 years, this Cincinnati, Ohio school, offers an online Associate of Applied Science Degree of Medical Coding and Billing that can be completed in an estimated two years. Beckfield College holds accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and is a private, for-profit institution.
While the school does not provide a detailed course curriculum, the website does indicate the courses will include diagnostic coding, procedural coding, medical terminology, computer application for healthcare professionals, advanced medical billing and coding, medical records auditing and hospital coding.
Length of Program: Not Provided
Estimated Tuition Cost: $12,420 (per year)
4. Pinnacle Career Institute
Pinnacle Career Institute (PCI) is a Kansas based, private for-profit school offering an online Associates Degree Medical Billing and Coding program. PCI was founded in 1953 as an electronics institute and has developed over the years offering numerous programs, certificates and degrees. PCI is accredited by the Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award certificates and associate degrees.
Coursework in this program includes studies in medical terminology, billing cycles, electronic health records, reimbursement methods, medical office administration, professional communication and Medical Billing and Coding professional practice experience. Graduates may sit for the Certified Professional Coder – Apprentice (CPC-A) Exam.
Length of Program: 15 months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $14,048 (per year)
5. Vista College
Estimated to be able to complete in 18 months (the length pertains to graduating in normal time), Vista College has campuses throughout Texas and offers an online Applied Associate in Science Degree in Billing and Coding degree. Courses included are medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical office procedures, general education courses in English composition, math and psychology. Additional coding courses will also provide studies in ICD, CPT and HCPCS coding. Graduates will be qualified to seek careers in hospitals, clinics, outpatient and inpatient facilities and/or insurance companies.
The school offers this accreditation statement: Vista College is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, 7840 Roswell Road, Building 300 Suite 325 Atlanta Georgia 30350, (770) 396-3898). Vista College online campus is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges – ACCSC. 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 302 Arlington, VA 22201. Vista College offers either an associate degree or diploma in medical billing and coding. For more information about graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit the Disclosure Rate page of the school’s website.
Length of Program: 10 months (diploma); 18 months (AAS)
Estimated Tuition Cost: $15,760 (per year)
6. Grantham University
This Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Medical Billing and Coding degree which concentrates on medical terminology, basic diagnosis coding systems, basic procedures coding systems, reimbursement methodologies and computer software application systems. Students will learn about the ICD-10, the healthcare system that assures compliance with federal regulations, and meets practical insurance requirements.
Grantham University was founded in 1951 and is one of the nation’s oldest private distance education universities. Located in Lenexa, Kansas, Grantham University is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). This AAS degree prepares students to sit for the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam, a medical coding and billing industry certification.
Length of Program: 55 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $16,960 (per year)
7. Ultimate Medical Academy
This nonprofit school, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, serves as a healthcare training institution and, as their website says, “…is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). ABHES is recognized by the Secretary of Education as a specialized, national accrediting body determined to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered by the educational institutions and programs it accredits.” UMA offers an online Associates Degree Medical Billing and Coding.
Estimated to take approximately 17 months to complete, this associate’s degree will examine general education subjects (English composition, general math, general biology; and, core program topics in disease processes and ICD-10 and CP coding, coding with simulation, introduction to healthcare billing systems, accounting for management, medical basics and the healthcare claim cycle.
Program Length: 62 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $26,600 (per year)
8. Keiser University
Keiser University provides an Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding which is offered online. Program contents include classwork in CPT-4 HCPS coding, basic ICD-10 coding, pathophysiology, medical law and ethics, medical office procedures for insurance and computerized medical office management. Students are required to complete (or transfer) 24 general education courses in addition to the 36 hours in medical billing and coding courses.
Established in 1977 in West Palm Beach, Florida, Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university. The holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 50 colleges in the Southern U.S. Region and for its service to veterans.
Length of Program: 64 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $29,568 (per year)
9. Stratford University
Offering an Associate of Applied Science Degree Medical Billing, Insurance and Coding. Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to award certificate, diploma, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, Stratford University has seven campus locations and an online educational division. A public benefit corporation in Virginia, Stratford University was established in 1976.
This AAS degree will involve familiarity in filing claims, assigning codes, insurance appeals, electronic medical records, ICD-10 coding, accounting, analyzing and interpretations of patient records and in and outpatient billing. Core coursework will include diagnostic and procedures coding, anatomy for non-clinical members, overview of medical billing, coding and insurance, medical finance and insurance and medical reimbursement systems, among others.
Length of Program: 90 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $33,300 (per year)
10. Berkeley College Online
Since 1931, Berkeley College in New York is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and offers an online Health Services Administration Applied Associate in Science degree with a focus on medical insurance, coding and billing. The school has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report for its Online Bachelors Programs and its Best Online Programs for Veterans.
Courses will include foundations of health services, health information management, medical coding (ICD-10 and CPT), medical billing and reimbursement methods, basic pharmacology and physiology and legal and ethical issues in healthcare. Students will also be required to take general education courses and a core business courses. Both the AAPC and AHIMA recommend an Associate’s degree prior to sitting for the CCA and CPC certification examinations.
Length of Program: 60 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $50,100 (Total Costs)