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 5 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. Central Maine Community College
Central Maine Community College provides an online Associates Degree in Medical Coding and Electronic Health Records which will prepare students to enter a bachelors degree program or to enter the workforce in entry level positions in healthcare facilities, physician offices, long term care facilities, etc. Students will study healthcare privacy regulations, quality control issues and coding systems currently used in healthcare. Central Main Community College is located in Auburn, Maine and holds regional accreditation from the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Classes will include studies in anatomy and physiology, general biology, medical terminology, college writing and English, business math, business communications, health information technology, CPT coding, ICD coding, as well as healthcare statistics, introduction to psychology and medical specialties and pathology.
Length of Program: 62 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,704 (Resident); $11,408 (Non Resident);$5,568 (NE RSP participants)
3. Herzing University
Established in 1965, Herzing University boasts 10 campuses spanning across seven states, with the main campus located in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. In addition to on-campus options, Herzing offers more than 40 online and hybrid degrees, including both a diploma track and an associate degree in medical billing and coding. The associate degree option comprises 61 credits and can be completed in 20 months. This track allows students to seamlessly transfer into a bachelor's program if they choose to pursue a management career in the future. Students work with experienced faculty and can log on for classwork at their convenience. Courses examine the most current industry processes and software, preparing graduates to take the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist exam upon program completion.
Length of Program: 61 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost: $6,280 (per year)
4. 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)
5. 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)