Medical Billing and Coding Programs, Degrees, Classes & Certificates

Learn about the different medical billing and coding programs, degrees, classes, certificate options, and accreditation standards.
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Medical Billing and Coding Programs

If you’re interested in becoming a medical coder, you may be wondering what the best medical billing and coding programs are.

You may also be wondering what medical billing and coding degree options exist and how much the CPC coding exam costs or how it differs from the CBCS exam.

This article will answer all of your questions on medical billing and coding programs, degrees and certification exams and the AAPC and NHA who administer the certification exams.

Medical Billing & Coding Degrees & Certificates

The career path for medical billing and coding is in high demand in today’s job market.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in the field of medical records and health information technicians, which this career is under, will grow even more by 11% from 2018 to 2028.

Given the high demand, it doesn’t come as a surprise that various schools provide degree programs for this career. Most professionals working as medical billers and coders have a two-year associate’s degree. But there are other degree options such as a diploma, certificate, and bachelor’s degree.

Each degree option is suited for different purposes. You must consider various factors that may affect your choice when deciding which fits best for you.

Some of you might have to assess your family obligations or future career goals. If a management position is your goal, then a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or a related course may help.

What Are the Degree Options?

Before deciding on a degree option, you must understand its different aspects. For example, finishing a certificate course allows you to join the workforce earlier, but earning a bachelor’s or associate’s degree gives a better salary.

  • Diploma or Certificate – It usually takes nine months to a year for full-time students to complete a certificate or diploma program. Meanwhile, career college programs can be completed much faster. If time is of the essence for you, then this can be the best option. You can accomplish this at a career college or community college.
  • Associate’s Degree – An associate’s degree takes two years to fulfill. It covers general education subjects beyond the scope of medical billing and coding course syllabus. This fits best for those who plan to advance their education later in their life. The credits earned in this degree program are counted when advancing towards a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Both community colleges, as well as career colleges, offer associate’s degree programs.
  • Bachelor’s Degree – Some universities and colleges offer a bachelor’s program in health care administration and health information management. This program will take you four years to finish since it also includes other general education curricula.

A bachelor’s degree opens up greater career opportunities. It can even help you land a management position.

What Are the Classes You Should Expect?

If you wish to become a billing and coding professional, then you need to be an expert and have a grasp on a wide range of topics.

Enrolling in a medical billing and coding course will usually comprise the following classes:

  • Medical Terminology – This class will introduce you to the vocabularies used by medical professionals. It includes terminologies for human anatomy, bodily systems, drugs, diseases, and related medical procedures.
  • Anatomy and Physiology – This class covers the organ systems of the human body, their functions, and processes.
  • Medical Office Administration – Medical office administration covers the duties of running a medical office. It teaches routine tasks such as handling clerical work, scheduling appointments, and greeting patients.
  • Medical Office Technology – This course will train you in using typical medical office equipment and software.
  • Medical Coding – A typical medical coding class will prepare you in applying Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System, International Classification of Diseases, and Current Procedural Technology codes.
  • Insurance Claim Procedures – All medical billing and coding courses include this or a version of this class. This will teach you the standard procedures for filing an insurance claim.
The list of classes above are common in all medical billing and coding programs. You may also want to learn more about a curriculum of medical billing and coding classes.

Accredited Medical Billing and Coding Programs

There are a lot of reasons why you should get certified from one of the accredited medical billing and coding programs. One of the biggest reasons is that a lot of employers prefer to hire certified medical billing and coding professionals. Furthermore, certified professionals generally earn more than non-certified professionals.

If you want to be certified, you must enroll in a school that is accredited. For medical billing and coding schools, the agencies that accredit them are:

  • American Health Information Management Association
  • American Academy of Professional Coders

Depending on where you enroll, these regional agencies may also be responsible for accrediting the medical billing and coding schools:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
It is also worth noting that there are online medical billing and coding courses.

What is Medical Billing and Coding?

In today’s modern healthcare system, medical billing and coding are vital. These two careers are related, and often work together as one. The work of medical coders involves translating written information into standardized codes that represent each type of injury or illness. These codes, in turn, allow insurance companies and government agencies to accurately reimburse medical practitioners for their services. Medical coders also translate medical data into the corresponding codes for insurance companies to process claims.

Medical billers use digital tools to communicate with physicians, insurers, and other payers. They use computer software to check the codes for accuracy and submit claims to payers. This field involves time-sensitive tasks and is tied to medical reimbursement. Despite the differences between these two positions, the fundamental goal is the same: reimbursement for medical services. If you’re interested in learning more about the roles of medical coders, check out the information below.

What degree is best for medical billing and coding?

A career in medical billing and coding can lead to a high salary of nearly double the federal minimum wage. The health industry is growing, and there are many opportunities in this field. This career field requires a strong attention to detail, keen computer skills, and the ability to work well with others. Additionally, these positions offer flexible schedules and remote work opportunities. Additionally, there are many freelance opportunities available. You can get more information about enrollment requirements at medical billing and coding schools and programs by entering your zip code.

An associate degree is a good entry-level education in this field. It typically takes two years to complete. However, if you’d like to go into management or higher levels of the field, you may consider earning a bachelor’s degree. The outcomes of an associate degree program will help you determine whether the program will lead to a career in medical billing and coding. A diploma will require more time and a higher level of education.

What is the exam for medical billing and coding?

If you are thinking about pursuing a career in medical billing and coding, the first step is to take the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam administered by the AAPC.

The CPC exam is a challenging exam that tests a coder’s knowledge of the entire coding process. The AAPC website states that the CPC exam covers 24 different subject areas, including anesthesia, radiology, and medicine.

The CPC exam measures your knowledge of specific coding sets, procedures, and medical terminology. It requires a score of 70 percent or better. After passing the exam, you will receive your certification.

A certificate, or an associate degree in medical coding and billing, results in taking the CPC exam. Some programs will require you to take a CMAA exam. The CMAA exam is administered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Other credential exams are:

  • CPC
  • CCA
  • CBCS
  • CMAA

If you are unsure which exam to take, it is a good idea to check out your options before enrolling.

Most employers don’t require four-year bachelor’s degrees for entry-level positions in medical coding. However, they do expect graduates to have some formal training in medical terminology, industry codes, and relevant software. Obtaining a certificate from an accredited health education school is one way to validate your knowledge and market yourself to potential employers. If you don’t pass the exam, it may be worth pursuing a certificate or associate’s degree in this field before attempting it a second time.

How much is the CPC coding exam?

The basic CPC exam fee is $349 + $190 AAPC membership fee. However, there are additional options with additional fees for exam prep bundles.

The CPC coding exam is a comprehensive exam that takes 4 hours to complete. To pass, you must score at least 70 percent of all questions. To pass, you must answer 70 of 100 multiple choice questions correctly. The CPC exam is available both in person and online. To take the exam, you need a computer with an Internet connection, stand-alone webcam, and a quiet area.

Coding is an important part of the medical claims process, and this test will evaluate your ability to correctly code procedures, supplies, and diagnoses using CPT®, HCPCS Level II, and ICD-10-CM and ICD-10 Codes. You will be given scenarios to code and will be expected to reference the appropriate coding manuals during the test. A passing score on this exam will demonstrate your proficiency in medical coding.

AAPC members can save on the exam cost by comparing prices online. The exam requires a strong understanding of medical terminology and codes. It also asks you to apply these concepts. You must be comfortable working with medical coding software.

How do I take my CPC exam?

Before applying and scheduling your exam, the AAPC recommends completing courses in medical terminology and anatomy before attempting the exam. Additionally, CPC prep courses will teach you how to use medical terminology and code sets. The AAPC also offers CPC review classes in various cities. Studying for two months beforehand will give you a sense of how well you’re prepared for the exam.

One of the best ways to prepare for the CPC exam is to take the AAPC CPC® Preparation Course. This course is designed by the same people who created the CPC exam, so you can be sure that you will receive a comprehensive and effective education on all of the coding sets you’ll need to know for the exam.

If you’re a CPC candidate and you’re not a member yet, you may want to join to get your hands on an AAPC practice exam. It will give you an overview of the exam’s topics. The online practice tests mimic the CPC exam format. These practice exams will give you an idea of the type of questions you’ll encounter on the actual test.

Once you’re familiar with the topics, practice taking the exam. If you’re unsure of any particular question, you can always skip it. The maximum time allowed on the exam is 4 hours, so make sure you’re well prepared.

What is the CBCS Exam and How Much Does it Cost?

The CPC certification is more versatile than the CBCS certification, however the CBCS exam leads to a great entry level medical billing certification to get started with.

Depending on your educational background, you may already be working as a medical biller. If you are not, it may be time to get a training course in this field. The CBCS exam highlights your data management competency specifically involving insurance claims. It contains questions on billing administration and coding. Before you take the exam, you should have completed a medical billing and coding training program within the last five years. To qualify for the exam, you must have received your training from a state-recognized institution. If you do not, then you must obtain a high school diploma or GED.

The CBCS exam is designed to assess your knowledge of the coding domain as it applies to insurance claims. It is worth noting that a number of programs cover the costs of the exam. Applicants must have completed a training program within five years before taking the exam. The test plan is created by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Do you need medical terminology for medical billing and coding?

Those working in health insurance or medical billing are likely to be familiar with medical coding and terminology. In their job description, these employees will apply codes to bills sent to patients or their insurance company. Each type of treatment costs a certain amount and employees must know how to interpret those codes so they can accurately charge the right amount.

For example, category II codes identify recent laboratory work and immunization status. Category III codes, on the other hand, are experimental and in a trial phase. These codes are used to describe specific health conditions, such as cancer, and help healthcare professionals manage their care. Those who work in the medical field will find this knowledge beneficial so accuracy as a medical coder is extremely important.

What is a medical billing and coding certification?

A medical coding and billing certification increases your chances of being hired for higher paying positions. Most employers don’t require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but they will look for candidates who have completed formal training in medical terminology, standard industry codes, and relevant software. A medical billing and coding certification from an accredited health education school will show potential employers that you’ve gained the necessary expertise to excel in the field.

Whether you choose to get certified or not, you’ll need to know what your goal is. There are several different types of certifications available, including the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders. Regardless of which type of medical coding and billing certification you obtain, your resume is your opportunity to impress potential employers. Make sure your resume highlights your educational background, technical skills, and references. If possible, you can also add a professional summary.

Costs vary between different types of classes. Technical schools often cost less than four-year universities and colleges, and can prepare you for certification in as little as one year. Depending on where you get your education, pricing structure can be different, with some charging by the credit hour and others charging a fixed fee for the entire course. You should also check your residency requirements and cost before choosing a medical billing and coding certification program.

If you are organized, pay attention to detail, and think you’d enjoy a flexible and rewarding career as a medical billing & coding professional then find the best program for you. Click the blue “Find Schools” button to get started.

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