The role of a trained medical biller and coder cannot be underestimated. The accurate and prompt assignment of ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) and CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes is key to the accuracy of patient records and reimbursement.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career has an estimated 15% job growth expectation between 2014-2024 and the average salary rate for a qualified biller and coder is approximately $37,110. While it’s not required that a biller and coder have a degree, diploma or certificate, most employers prefer employees who have been certified in coding and billing procedures. To meet that need, community colleges, technical and vocational schools are offering online coursework that will lead to certification by sitting for one of several certification exams, such as Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Billing and Coding (CBCS), etc. Certificates can be obtained in as little as 4-12 months.
Cost of Attendance
Most employers require medical billing and coding specialists to have a minimum of a certificate or diploma in the field. The good news is that the cost of attendance to obtain a certificate or diploma is much cheaper than obtaining an Associates or Bachelors degree. Whether you pursue a certificate/diploma or a two year degree is up to you and your long range career plans.
If you’re currently working in the medical field and want to pursue a certificate/diploma, check with your Human Resources department to see if your employer offers a reimbursement program for employees advancing their education.
Federal Financial Aid
Certificate or diploma programs typically don’t qualify for federal student assistance; but, certain schools may offer scholarships or grants. Check with your admission advisor to see if such help is available.
Veterans, Active Military, Spouses and Dependents
More and more schools are offering attendance cost discounts for active or retired military personnel. Your admission counselor should be able to guide you through the steps to see if you qualify.
School accreditation helps you determine if the program you select is meeting the minimum educational requirements set by independent agencies that are acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s helpful to know whether your school has met these requirements.
Best Medical Degrees has researched 10 online Medical Billing and Coding certification or diploma programs. Ranked according to tuition information on colleges and career school websites, school accreditation and other information (such as certification examinations) provided by the schools.
1. Penn Foster Career School
Founded in 1890 as a school for long distance learning for miners in mining safety and engineering, Penn Foster is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and is licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools and is approved for veterans educational benefits. This Medical Billing and Coding Diploma prepares students to sit for the AAPC Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam.
Over the ten months, students will become familiar with allied health careers, medical billing and health insurance, medical office procedures, body systems and terminology, laws, ethics and confidentiality in allied health, electronic medical records and medical coding. Students will also learn about ICD-10 and CPT coding.
Program Length: 10 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $799
2. Ashworth College
This Georgia college is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and started in 1987 to provide training in real estate. Since 2000, the college has offered online associate, bachelor and master degrees; as well, Ashworth College offers a Medical Billing and Coding Certificate which may be completed in as few as four months. Graduates will be qualified to sit for the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist exam, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), and the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
The program is divided into eight lesson groups with each group providing study in a school orientation, medical and body systems terminology, understanding managed care, medical coding, medical billing, accounts receivable, injury claims, and electronic claims processing, ICD-10-CM coding practice and CPT/HCPCS and ICD-10-PCS coding practice.
Program Length: 4 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $858
3. National Association of Health Careers and Education
This training institute describes its accreditation standing as, “a training provider and agent for the NHA and AMT National Certification Exams accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and issues certifications through National Healthcareers Association (NHA) and American Medical Technologists (AMT). Located in Tempe, Arizona, NAHCE is a network of healthcare careers and education. Offering a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist course.
Students will study a variety of coding topics including: surgery, pathology and laboratory, medicine, radiology, introduction to CPT and HCPCS codes and ICD-10 codes. Other courses include medical terminology, medical billing and coding externship and a capstone project.
Program Length: 18 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $972
4. U.S. Career Institute
U.S. Career Institute is accredited by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission and provides an online Medical Billing and Coding Specialist certificate. Part of the Weston Distance Learning, Inc., this institute has been providing distance education for over 35 years.
The certificate provided covers studies in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, medical records, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, ICD-10 and CPT coding. Tuition includes additional course materials which includes medical terminology flashcards and audio, practice claims forms, anatomy and physiology textbook and a career starter guide.
Program Length: 4 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,369
5. Santa Barbara City College
Founded in 1909, Santa Barbara City College offers associate and certificate programs online and on campus. Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), this Medical Coding Specialist Certificate is approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and successful students are eligible to sit for that organization’s Certified Coding Associate (CCA) examination. Santa Barbara City College has also received recognition from the Aspen Institute as the #1 Community College in the Nation. The Aspen Institute is dedicated to recognize outstanding community colleges.
Students will study basic medical terminology, human form and function, legal aspects of health care, CPT procedural coding, medical insurance and reimbursement, advanced coding applications, basic pathophysiology, pharmacology for allied health and introduction to health information management.
Program Length: 2 Years
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,791
6. Fayetteville Technical Community College
Offered online through its business programs, Fayetteville Technical Community College has a Medical Coding Specialist Certificate. FTCC is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina and is a state-supported, public, two-year school which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). According to the FTCC website, the school is currently working to be able to provide online education for students living outside the state of North Carolina.
Covering procedural and diagnostic coding, the certificate curriculum also includes studies in medical terminology, medical terminology, billing and insurance and CPC certification.
Length of Program: 3 Semesters
Estimated Tuition Cost: $2,208 (NC Residents Only)
7. Great Basin Community College
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Great Basin Community College is located in Elko, Nevada and provides an online Certificate of Achievement in Medical Billing and Coding. Great Basin Community College is a partner with Career Step in Springfield, Utah to provide online programs.
This certificate will qualify graduates to sit for a variety of national examinations, including, the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Courses covered include medical billing and coding courses, reimbursement methodologies, ICD-10 and CPT coding, anatomy, pathophysiology and medical terminology.
Length of Program: 12 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $2,850
8. Darton State College Online
A part of the Georgia state educational system, Darton State College Online offers an online Medical Office and Billing Specialist Certificate which can be completed in a matter of months. Darton State College is a two-year college located in Albany, Georgia and that offers 13 fully online certificates, 39 online degrees and 96 distance education courses. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Covering the standard courses in anatomy and pathophysiology, health records content, medical terminology, computer applications fundamentals, coding and billing specifics. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the national credentialing exam for CCA (certified coding associate).
Length of Program: 22 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $2,860
9. Brighton College
This Falstaff, Arizona school was founded in 1961 as a long distance education program for those in the field of hospitality. Over the years, Brighton College has expanded to include programs in business, allied health professions, construction services certificates, information technology and paralegal and nurse consultant careers. Accredited by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC), Brighton College has an online Medical Coding and Billing Diploma.
Students will study health care introduction, medical office procedures, anatomy and physiology, medical coding (including ICD-10 coding), medical insurance (HIPAA, Worker’s Compensation, billing and reimbursement cycles, electronic medical records and computer systems). Successful graduates will receive a certification preparation package and a voucher for the Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS) certification exam from the National Healthcare Association at no additional charge.
Program Length: 22 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $3,730
10. Herkimer County Community College
Established in 1966 by the State University of New York (SUNY), this Herkimer, New York community college has an online Medical Coding Transcriptionist Certificate that can be completed in as little as 12 months. Herkimer County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Besides the necessary coding courses, this program includes studies in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, report writing for the healthcare professional, computer applications, public relations, business organization and management and customer service management.
Length of Program: 12 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $4,490