As more healthcare organizations transition to fully digitized electronic health records, medical billing and coding professionals have become an essential part of the industry. These specialists use their technical training to code and manage healthcare information for patient records, medical invoices, and insurance reimbursements. This guide ranks the best low-cost medical coding and billing online programs.
Most employers require training beyond high school, typically through a one-year certificate program or a two-year associate degree. With so many programs offered online, students should pay close attention to cost, timeline, and the quality of information technology training. Most importantly, make sure to choose a reputable school, accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education or the American Association of Professional Coders.
10 Most Affordable Online Medical Billing and Coding Certificates and Diplomas
What to Expect From an Online Medical Billing and Coding Program
Earning a certificate or associate degree in medical billing and coding provides the minimum educational qualification for employment as a medical records and health information technician, medical billing manager, medical office administrator, or a related position.
Certificates offer the quickest route to employment, requiring 4-12 months of study. The certificate curriculum focuses exclusively on billing and coding through classes in electronic records management, medical insurance, administrative practices, and a practicum. An associate degree, which usually takes 18-24 months online, combines general education requirements with billing and coding courses, along with a practicum. Both program types prepare graduates to sit for certified billing and coding specialist, certified professional coder, and certified coding associate exams.
When comparing medical billing and coding online schools, prospective students should consider that the level of training affects earnings and career potential. An increasing number of employers prefer to hire associate or bachelor's degree-holders.
Career Outlook for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
As the demand for medical services expands across the U.S., especially among the aging population, health information technicians play a crucial role in organizing and managing patient data for healthcare organizations, government agencies, and the insurance industry.
Medical billing and coding has emerged as one of the fastest-growing professions in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% increase in employment from 2018-28 for medical records and healthcare information technicians, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. These professionals earn a median yearly salary of $40,360, with the highest 10 percent — those with advanced degrees and experience — earning more than $66,000 each year.
Although entry-level positions currently do not require certification, healthcare industry trends indicate that many employers favor more formal training requirements for these professionals. According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, certified medical coders earn 20% more than those without certification.
Most Affordable Online Medical Billing and Coding Certificates and Diplomas 2020
Recommended Online Medical Billing & Coding Programs