Graduates of online medical billing and coding programs look forward to an expanding job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% job growth rate for medical records and health information technicians from 2019-29, much faster than the national average. The BLS calculates 29,000 future openings for medical billing and coding professionals, crediting the growth rate to an aging population in need of expanded healthcare services and data management.
Students can complete medical billing and coding online programs in about a year and enter the job market with a certificate or diploma. Online medical billing and coding courses cover anatomy and physiology, classification and coding systems, healthcare reimbursement methods, medical terminology, and statistics. These courses teach necessary job skills in the field, such as classifying and managing health information data, and prepare graduates for certification exams.
Distance learners can expect to complete most of their classes and practicum experiences online. Courses may be offered through synchronous live virtual courses, or through pre-recorded lectures that fit any student's schedule.
Most Affordable Online Medical Billing and Coding Certificates and Diplomas for 2020
Recommended Online Medical Billing & Coding Programs
Applying to an Affordable Online Medical Billing and Coding Certificate and Diploma Program
Common admission requirements for medical billing and coding online programs include a high school diploma or GED, minimum GPA, and ACT, Accuplacer, or SAT scores. Some schools may require typing speed tests or keyboarding courses, and proficiency in a particular software program, such as Microsoft Word.
Applicants with prior higher education coursework, professional training, or volunteer experience may be permitted to transfer credits. Programs may also allow students to transfer credits earned for their certificate or diploma toward an associate or bachelor's degree.
Employers tend to prefer medical billers and coders certified as Registered Health Information Technicians, Certified Tumor Registrars, or equivalent designations. Certification typically requires passing an exam, completing an accredited program, such as those listed in this guide, or coding experience hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do medical billers and coders do?
Medical billers and coders review, document, and maintain patient records, which include medical histories, exams, test results, and treatments. They also use coding software to classify medical services provided for insurance reimbursement and data analysis. Medical billers and coders can become certified in fields like medical coding specialist and cancer registrar.
How much do medical billing and coding online courses cost?
Low-cost medical coding and billing online programs may base fees on an annual basis or a per-credit basis. Annual costs range $2,000-$8,000, while medical billing and coding online courses cost $100-$1,000 per credit. Program tuition may vary by residency status and program length.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
Accreditation indicates that a program meets rigorous curriculum and student performance standards. Employers look for graduates of accredited programs to ensure that an applicant possesses up-to-date skills. Two main organizations accredit medical billing and coding programs: the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education and the American Academy of Professional Coders.
How long does it take to complete a medical billing and coding program?
Many medical billing and coding online programs can be completed in a year or less. Others may take 18 months to two years. Factors influencing time to graduation include full- or part-time enrollment, availability of transfer credit, and program structure. For example, self-paced courses may allow accelerated program completion in as little as four months.
What's the difference between a certificate and a diploma in medical billing and coding?
Medical billing and coding certificates often take less time to earn, with most students graduating in under a year. Diploma programs may take up to two years to finish and often focus on a particular specialization. Certificate programs provide skill-based preparation, while diplomas focus on skills and additional technical knowledge.