Medical billing and coding professionals are critical links between healthcare providers, insurance companies, and patients. As the healthcare industry continues to decentralize, well-trained billing and coding specialists remain in high demand. Advances in medical science have resulted in longer life spans. As aging populations make greater use of medical services, there is a corresponding need for medical coding and billing specialists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for medical records and health technicians will grow by 13% by 2026.
Medical coders and billers do not need postsecondary education, but competition for jobs remains difficult without it. Most employers expect professional certification after a formal training program. The American Medical Billing Association (AMBA), the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC), and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) grant professional credentials. In this guide we explore the methods you can choose to earn professional certification and begin your medical coding and billing career.
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Best States for Medical Billers and Coders
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses two classifications for medical billers and coders. Although some duties overlap between these professionals, the BLS provides different statistics on health information technicians and financial clerks in the healthcare industry.
Health information technicians oversee patient information in medical facilities. They not only file patient records in the correct digital and physical spaces, but they also ensure accuracy and confidentiality throughout the process. Throughout the nation, these professionals earn a median annual salary of $39,180. Technicians who work in hospitals earn an average of $42,090 yearly. The BLS projects a 13% growth rate for this profession from 2016-2026.
The financial clerk label covers billing professionals across several industries, including those who have specific medical field training. These clerks earn a median wage of $38,680 per year. However, those who work with insurance companies earn $41,090 annually. The BLS projects 9% job growth in the next 10 years for all financial clerks and 11% for those who process insurance claims.
Although national averages can help workers understand their earning potential, individuals should also explore local data. The local economy and healthcare regulations can change earning potential within each state.
Coding and billing professionals should evaluate each state based on several criteria. Average pay rises as an essential factor, but it remains only one component of these rankings. For example, the relationships between living costs and average salary weigh heavily in these rankings. The state's location quotient also helps determine its classification. These ratios allow professionals to understand how many professionals a state employs in relation to the national average. For example, if a state maintains a location quotient of 3.0 for health technicians, the percentage of technicians in that state's population remains three times higher than the national average.
The Old Line State and the nation's capital are the only two jurisdictions to land in the top-five paying areas for both medical records technicians and insurance claims clerks. The proximity of these locations means workers often commute between the District of Columbia and Maryland. Since the cost of living in Baltimore, Maryland, hovers 23% lower than in the district, the state takes the top spot.
Records technicians in the state earn $49,390 per year on average while their insurance claims peers make $47,650. The location quotient for records professionals stands at 1.10, which may mean these workers can easily find work. Maryland residents can also work in the district, where records technicians and insurance billers can earn at least $1,000 more. Residents here can take easy weekend trips to many exciting places, from peaceful shores to bustling cities.
While records technicians in this state make just a little above the national average and billers earn just a little less, North Dakota earns top marks for above-average location quotients and a favorable economy. Health coding professionals earn about $43,370, and the state employs 29% more of these workers per capita than the country's average. While insurance-specific billing specialists earn below the national average, those who work as billing professionals without the insurance constraint make a mean salary of $44,050 yearly.
This Midwestern state boasts a stronger economy than most places in the country. The unemployment rate hovers at just 3.4%, which is significantly lower than the 5.2% national average. Workers also pay less than half of the average income tax rate at only 2%. Both coders and billing professionals experience above-average standards of living with wages far above the state's average salary of $30,894 per year.
Billing and coding workers in this state enjoy high mean salaries, mild summer months, and plenty of outdoor activities. Records technicians earn $49,040 and insurance claims specialists make $49,440 yearly. Professionals in metropolitan areas can earn even more. For example, billers make $51,030 and record technicians earn $53,430 annually in Denver. The unemployment rate trends below the national average through highs and lows. Residents of the Centennial State enjoy access to mountain skiing and national parks.
Although Colorado's billers and coders face relatively high costs of living, the overall value remains better than most regions. For example, Denver residents pay about 12% more in living costs than the country's average, but housing in the area remains more affordable than in similar metropolitan areas.
Medical records technicians fare well in The Last Frontier with an average annual salary of $54,170, which stands $11,350 more than the national mean. The location quotient of 1.49 shows that Alaskan employers hire more technicians per capita than in most states. Unlike many regions, professionals in rural areas earn more than metropolitan billers and coders. These workers make $53,590 per year in the nonmetropolitan Southeastern region, but nearly $10,000 less in Anchorage.
Insurance claims specialists do not earn as much with a mean yearly salary of $37,560. Any professional who moves to Alaska should prepare for harsh winters, difficulty traveling, and high living costs. However, Alaskans enjoy several benefits, including no income or sales taxes from the state. Some municipalities charge sales taxes of 7.5% or lower. Furthermore, the government gives residents dividends for living there after one year.
On average, Connecticut employers pay medical records technicians $48,330 and insurance billing clerks $49,060 annually. While these salaries are above their respective national averages, only insurance clerks boast remarkable location quotients with 1.55. Although the Nutmeg State is small, salaries for coders and billers vary significantly throughout the area. For example, records technicians in Danbury earn $55,500 annually while their counterparts around Springfield make $41,320 yearly.
Although the price of living stands higher in Connecticut than the country's average, the wages make up for the additional cost. For example, the cost of living rises about 20% higher than average in Danbury. To make up for this, medical coders must earn $51,384, and these professionals earn approximately $4,000 above that on average.
|6||District of Columbia||
Health records technicians and insurance billers in the district earn more on average than most of their peers throughout the country. Billing specialists earn $51,370 per year, which is more than $10,000 over the country's mean. Similarly, records technicians make $50,070 annually, almost $8,000 more than the nation's average. Even with these wages, the district's cost of living and low location quotients keep it from breaking the top five on this list.
Payscale estimates that the cost of living in the district sits 39% above the average. Housing remains one of the most significant cost factors. In the District of Columbia, houses cost $561,700 on average. Renters pay about $1,200 per month for studio apartments or $1,720 for two-bedroom units. On the other hand, workers in the district enjoy excellent access to bike trails, public transit, and walkable routes.
Medical records technicians and insurance billing clerks both earn above-average salaries in Washington. Billers make $44,760 per year on average with a location quotient of 0.63. Records professionals fare better with a mean yearly salary of $45,190 and a location quotient of 1.04. Professionals who work in metropolitan regions such as Vancouver, Seattle, and Longview drive these averages up. However, health information technicians in smaller cities such as Lewiston, Mount Vernon, and Walla Walla earn less than $40,000 per year on average.
Washington boasts a strong economy with higher growth, higher wages for billers and coders, higher average salary per person, and higher mean household income than the national statistics. However, residents pay more for living costs. Like wages, the expense of living in each area varies. For example, Vancouver remains 3% more expensive than most places in the country while Seattle remains an astonishing 49% costlier.
While health records technicians earn above-average salaries with $44,100 per year in the First State, insurance specialists come in slightly below the norm at $40,120. However, the location quotient for insurance billers is 1.34 and significantly higher than for records technicians.
Delaware's small size allows residents to commute across state lines to cities such as Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington, which the BLS counts as one metropolitan area. Records professionals there make about $44,540 annually, while insurance billers earn approximately $43,750 yearly.
Many living costs in Delaware hover just above the national averages. For example, the median home price stands at $224,800 in Delaware and $216,200 across the United States. The local economy has low unemployment rates and faster-than-average job growth. Overall, Delawareans in Wilmington pay about 8% more than average for living expenses while those in Dover spend 2% less.
Healthcare employers in New Jersey pay an average of $58,080 per year to medical records technicians and $45,330 to insurance processing clerks. While both of these figures sit well above their respective national standards, technician pay stands out for being the highest in the country. However, the state maintains a higher percentage of insurance specialists and a low location quotient for records technicians.
Like with many New England states, people from New Jersey often travel across state borders for work. While commuting possibilities open the number of jobs a professional finds, coding and billing workers can explore higher-paying jobs in New Jersey cities such as Trenton and Newark. Medical records technicians in these areas earn significantly more than the Garden State's average. Meanwhile, those who commute to New York City make $50,050 annually.
Medical billing and coding workers enjoy higher average wages in Oregon than through the country as a whole. Insurance specialists earn about $43,130 each year and a quotient just below the national standard. Health information technicians experience an above-normal employment ratio and a mean salary of $46,560 annually.
The region affects earning potential, but no clear rural-urban divide exists. For example, insurance billing and claims specialists earn above the state's average in Portland, Salem, and the rural Eastern area. However, these professional earn below $40,000 per year on average in other nonmetropolitan areas and cities such as Eugene, Redmond, and Albany.
Medical billers and coders in the Beaver State pay high prices for housing, transportation, and groceries. Residents in Portland endure costs 29% above average, while those in Rivergrove see prices 29% above average. Unemployment rates remain in line with those across the country, but Oregon residents enjoy more growth and no sales tax.
Although medical billing and coding professionals make average wages or lower in Montana, the Big Sky Country earns a spot on this list for high employment ratios, low cost of living in some areas, and the spectacular scenery. Medical records technicians make $38,280 per year on average, which falls $4,540 lower than the countrywide standard. However, the field maintains a location quotient of 1.84. Insurance coders earn just above average with $41,440 per year.
Billers and coders who compare the costs of living with the salaries in specific areas of Montana find the value. For example, medical records technicians in Billings earn about $45,610, and insurance specialists make $41,850 per year, both of which are higher than the national averages. Meanwhile, Livability names Billings as Montana's most affordable city. The same area boasts an even higher quotient at 2.42 for records technicians.
Medical records technicians in the Golden State earn an average of $50,260 per year, which makes it the nation's third-highest paying state. Insurance billers come in just above the country's average at $41,430 annually with a 1.27 location quotient. Californians also enjoy proximity to the shoreline, excellent educational opportunities, and exciting tourist destinations.
California's large and diverse area ensures professionals earn varying wages across the state. For example, records clerks in Sacramento make about $1,000 more than the state's average. Insurance billers earn about $6,000 more than their peers, which makes up for the increased living expenses. Both types of professionals earn under the countrywide standards in Fresno, even though the cost of living sits 6% higher than average. While workers in San Francisco earn above the state and national standards, living expenses are 80% higher.
Both medical records technicians and insurance specialists earn just under $40,000 per year on average. While both of these types of professionals earn less than the national means, the location quotients of 1.52 and 1.34 make the Grand Canyon State one of only a few that maintains above-average employment ratios for both types of professionals. These hiring practices mean medical billing and coding professionals find stable employment.
The highest-paying areas include Flagstaff and Yuma, where records technicians earn $45,850 and $50,930 per year, respectively. Billers and coders earn about average wages in Phoenix but pay approximately 5% less in living costs.
While the unemployment rate rises higher than the national percentage, Best Places projects higher job growth in Arizona in the coming years. Warm temperatures, desert landscapes, and cultural touchstones draw professionals from around the country to Arizona.
Medical billing and coding Texans earn a few thousand dollars less than the countrywide standard. Insurance billing specialists earn $39,800, and medical records technicians make $41,510 per year on average. However, the location quotients and living expenses put the Lone Star State on this list. Insurance billers enjoy a 1.45 quotient while records technicians experience a 1.03 rate.
Texas remains as diverse as it is big when it comes to average wages. The Dallas-Ft. Worth area often pays medical billing and reporting professionals the state's highest rates. For example, records technicians earn $44,890 per year on the Western side of the large metropolitan area and $45,290 on the Northeastern area.
The booming economy, delicious food, endless recreation opportunities, and wide open spaces bring people to the Lone Star State. Businesses and individuals also pay no income taxes, which makes Texas the top state for companies who grow the economy.
As with several other states, Florida makes this list because of the quotients, economic factors, and additional attractions, but not necessarily for pay. Health records technicians make just below the national mean with $40,980 per year. Insurance specialists earn significantly less with an average of $36,350 annually.
Retirees, who typically require more healthcare services than younger people, help drive up the demand for medical billing and coding professionals. In fact, more of these professionals call Florida home than any state other than California and Texas. Other economic factors, such as the low unemployment rates and lack of state income tax cause people to move to the Sunshine State.
The cost-pay ratio works well for billing and coding professionals in some Floridian cities. The living expenses are 5% lower in Orlando than the national average; however, medical records technicians earn above the state's mean.
Employers in Massachusetts pay billing and coding specialists much more than the national average. Records technicians earn $49,240 annually on average, which is $6,420 more than the same job across the country. Insurance claims specialists make an average of $46,350 per year. Professionals in Boston earn even higher salaries. Some areas, such as New Bedford, experience split results. Medical records technicians earn a mean salary of $52,260 annually in this area, but insurance specialists only bring home about $36,350 per year.
Despite these relatively high salaries, the Bay State does not rank higher on our list because of the exorbitant cost of living and low employment ratios for this sector. Housing remains the primary driver of expensive living costs in Massachusetts. Renting a studio apartment in the state costs an average of $1,350 per month, and a three-bedroom home goes for about $2,510 monthly.
Both medical records technicians and insurance billing professionals earn above-average wages and experience just-below-average location quotients in Rhode Island. The BLS divides the union's smallest state into three areas to analyze employment data. Records technicians in the Norwich area earn $50,290 per year, while their peers in Providence make $44,680 annually. The BLS reveals no data on the New Shoreham Town area for either profession.
Housing, transportation, housing, grocery, and utilities all cost more in the Ocean State than the national average. Renting a three-bedroom home in the state costs about $1,880 monthly. However, Rhode Islanders spend significantly less on healthcare than most Americans. Professionals who call this area their home enjoy not only beautiful landscapes and proximity to the Eastern shore but also a healthy economy with favorable unemployment and growth rates.
In the North Star State, insurance billers and coders earn $43,040 per year on average while medical records technicians make $47,880. While both means stand above the national average, the location quotients remain almost precisely at the country's standards.
Minneapolis remains 5% more expensive than the nation's average, and medical records professionals earn an average $48,340 per year. This salary is more than 5% over the national average. Rochester presents an even better option. The cost of living hovers 2% below average, and records technicians earn $50,120 per year. The state's median housing prices sit slightly higher than around the country, but healthcare costs sink significantly lower. The unemployment rate stands much lower than throughout the country, but residents here pay higher income and sales taxes. Residents also enjoy outdoor activities, several festivals, and notoriously nice people.
Medical information technicians in the Bluegrass State earn an average of $37,210 per year while insurance billing specialists make $32,140 annually. While these salaries sit much lower than the national standards, so does Kentucky's cost of living.
Housing remains particularly inexpensive in the state, where the median home price hovers at $139,000. Low costs carry throughout the state. Louisville and Bowling Green cost 8% under average, and the more expensive Lexington rests at 4% under the norm. Furthermore, health records technicians and insurance coding specialists enjoy above-average employment ratios in the state at 1.38 and 1.16 respectively. The fact that the unemployment percentage in Kentucky sits slightly above the national rate makes these high quotients especially important.
Kentucky residents also enjoy several college towns with fun sports rivalries, many opportunities for outdoor adventures, and proximity to easy getaways in Nashville and St. Louis.
The Empire State contains 10,380 insurance billers and 9,590 medical records technicians. On average, these professionals enjoy above-average salaries. Billers earn $49,790 annually while records clerks make $46,200 per year. Neither profession has quotients above the standard.
Some areas around New York boast higher employment ratios or salaries. For example, insurance billers earn an average $51,670 annually in the New York City-New Jersey region. Records technicians in the area make about $50,050 yearly.
Individuals can expect to pay 129% more to live in New York City than in average areas around the country. While this cost is an outlier, the whole of New York is more expensive than the rest of the nation. The low unemployment percentage and accelerated job growth helps with high expenses.
The 10,450 Georgian insurance billing professionals earn well above the national mean with an average salary of $43,910 per year and enjoy a location quotient of 1.25. Medical information technicians do not fare as well, earning a mean annual salary of $39,410. These figures vary throughout the state.
In Atlanta and the surrounding region, both types of professionals earn well above the national average and boast high location quotients. On the other hand, insurance billers around Athens earn approximately $38,020 per year and health records technicians make $40,150 annually, which is under the country's mean.
Georgians also enjoy relatively average living expenses. Housing in Georgia costs less than in many states. The median home sells for just $172,200 in the Peach State. Even in the large Atlanta metroplex, living costs hover 1% lower than the national standard.
Medical coders and billers enjoy low living expenses in West Virginia. The median home price stands at only $96,000 in the Mountain State compared to $216,000 across the country. In places such as Morgantown, residents pay 4% less for living costs than average Americans.
The particularly low expenses reflect in the below-average wages. Medical records technicians earn $37,700 per year on average and enjoy a location quotient of 1.6. Insurance billing specialists make about $35,760 annually. The healthcare industry remains particularly significant with 17% of the state's workforce. The national average sits lower at 13.8%.
While many people may not think of West Virginia as particularly exciting, the state boasts plenty of recreation opportunities. Outdoor enthusiasts fare particularly well in the Mountain State. They can go mountain biking, bask in beautiful waterfalls, and enjoy some of the country's most colorful autumn leaves.
Medical billing and coding workers in the Sooner State earn average salaries just below the national standards. Insurance specialists make $39,820 annually, and health records technicians earn $35,790. The location quotient for claims specialists hovers just below average as well. However, the ratio for records professionals stands at 1.5.
This state earns a spot on this list for its low living costs relative to the salaries. For example, medical records professionals in Lawton earn a mean of $37,140 per year. The average living expenses are 9% lower in that area than the country's norm.
Similarly, professionals bring home an average pay of $35,560 in Oklahoma City, where the living expenses stand 15% below the national average. The median home price in the state remains almost $100,000 lower than the country's median.
The Volunteer State boasts below-average living expenses. Groceries, healthcare, housing, and utilities all cost less than the national means. Tennessee also does not charge income taxes and maintains a below-average unemployment rate. Furthermore, Tennessee boasts a larger percentage of its workforce in healthcare than the country at large.
Insurance billing agents earn $36,550 on average per year, which falls significantly below average, and medical records technicians earn about $41,650 yearly. Medical records professionals enjoy the highest average in Nashville at $47,120 annually. The lowest-paying metropolitan area is Morristown, where the same professionals make $32,470 per year on average.
When billers and coders are not at work, they can enjoy the great outdoors with majestic mountains and rivers. Music lovers can savor the rich history and new talent throughout the state. Professionals who want to go back to school can access exceptional universities.
Medical records professionals in Wisconsin earn $42,780 per year on average and enjoy a quotient of 1.26. Insurance billers make $40,420 per year on average and enjoy a high quotient of 1.41. While these wages remain slightly under the country's average, so does the state's cost of living. Medical records professionals earn some of the highest average wages in Madison with $45,360 per year, where the cost of living rises 7% higher than the country's average.
Grocery, housing, utilities, and transportation costs less than the national means. The median home price stands at $177,800, which remains $38,400 less than the national average. However, healthcare remains more expensive in Wisconsin. Professionals also enjoy below-average unemployment rates.
Wisconsinites enjoy some of the happiest places to live, plenty of sports teams to keep fans busy year-round, and farm-fresh foods. The state also hosts many food, music, and seasonal festivals.
How to Choose a Medical Billing and Coding Program
Employers nearly always expect medical billers and coders to hold professional certification. Several industry organizations grant medical billing and coding credentials, including the AMBA, AAPC, and AHIMA. Medical billing and coding schools equip students with key job skills and prepare them for their certification examinations. Aspiring medical billing and coding professionals can work towards certification through certificate, diploma, or associate degree programs.
Each program leads to a medical coding certification, but each differs in course content, length, and cost. A certificate program delivers core medical billing and coding courses in a short period of time. Diploma medical billing and coding programs are longer and more expensive, but offer additional coursework and training. An associate degree from an accredited medical billing and coding school delivers a liberal arts curriculum in addition to medical coding classes, helping students cultivate useful critical-thinking skills.
Aspiring medical billing and coding students should weigh each training option against their individual career goals and personal needs. If you plan to pursue medical billing and coding training, ask yourself how much time you can commit to schooling. Do you prefer to attend classes part or full time? Is distance education or a traditional campus setting appealing to you when exploring options for medical coding training? Tuition varies between medical coding programs, generally in relation to a program's length and curriculum, so evaluate each carefully.
Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding
A medical billing and coding certificate program, not to be confused with an actual certification, focuses strictly on skills training in preparation for the credentialing exam. Certificate programs are usually shorter and less costly than other medical billing and coding training options. Course credits do not transfer to diploma or associate programs, however.
- Certificate Program Cost
Tuition varies between schools, and often depends on program length. Online medical billing and coding certificate programs range from $1,000-$2,000.
- Certificate Completion Time
Though each school sets its own program length, aspiring medical billing and coding professionals can finish a certificate program within a year.
Diploma in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding diploma programs offer an expanded curriculum that further prepares graduates for professional roles. Courses emphasize skills training for the medical office and advanced billing and coding. Diploma programs are longer and more costly than certificate programs, but may include a credentialing exam as part of the curriculum.
- Diploma Program Cost
Tuition varies widely between schools, but medical billing and coding diploma programs generally cost anywhere from $10,000-$15,000 to complete.
- Diploma Completion Time
Curricula, and thus program length, differ substantially between schools, but a student can typically complete a diploma in medical billing and coding in 9-16 months.
Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding associate degree curricula deliver not only specific skills training, but also a well-rounded liberal arts education. Graduates are well-versed in communications and technology. Many programs include a credentialing exam with their curriculum, and all of them transfer easily into bachelor's programs for further study.
- Associate Program Cost
Accredited medical billing and coding associate programs can cost students $12,000-$18,000 to complete, depending on the school.
- Associate Degree Completion Time
It takes two academic years to complete an associate degree in medical billing and coding. Some schools offer slightly shorter accelerated programs.
Advancing Your Career in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billers and coders seeking upward career mobility often return to school for a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or health information management. Curricula cover medical ethics, legislative compliance, data analysis, and project management skills that are necessary to climb the career ladder in the healthcare environment. Bachelor-prepared medical billers and coders are prepared for decision-making and leadership positions, and hiring managers often prefer this additional education. Bachelor's degrees also pave the way for further study, such as a master's degree in public health or healthcare administration. Most executive roles in healthcare administration require a master's degree. As the table below illustrates, education level directly impacts a professional medical biller and coder's earning potential.
High School Diploma$49,066
Master's and Doctorate$71,701
Career and Employment Outlook for Medical Billers and Coders
- Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Usually working in an office setting, these professionals interpret medical records and translate them into codes for insurance purposes. In collaboration with other medical office staff, billers and coders review charts and records for completeness and submit invoices to health insurance companies.
Median Annual Salary: $36,545
Education Level Required: Certificate, Diploma, or Degree
- Medical Billing Supervisor
These professionals usually work in hospitals or large medical practices, overseeing a staff of coders and billers. They ensure that records are properly coded and invoiced, facilitating helpful information when necessary. In some offices, medical billing supervisors also work with patient collections
Median Annual Salary: $48,019
Education Level Required: Associate Degree
- Medical BIlling Manager
These individuals oversee all billing operations for a medical practice or facility. Daily duties include supervising a staff of coders and billers, monitoring collection activity, negotiating payer contracts, resolving billing disputes, and training employees. These professionals may counsel patients with large invoices on financial options.
Median Annual Salary: $50,902
Education Level Required: Bachelor's Degree
Programmatic Accreditation for Medical Billing and Coding Programs
When a school holds accreditation, it means that it has been vetted against established standards. A school may hold national, regional, or programmatic accreditation. National accreditation refers to a specific type of education, such as vocational school or distance learning. Regional accreditation signals that a school has met standards that govern fair admissions policies and sound academic programs. The difference between regional and national accreditation can be confusing. Even though regional accreditation groups schools by areas of the country, it carries more academic heft than national accreditation.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation both maintain free public databases of accredited postsecondary schools. When a specific program meets standards established by an industry organization, it is programmatically accredited. Programmatically accredited medical billing and coding programs are recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education.
Medical Billing and Coding Program Admissions
Before you submit any applications to medical billing and coding schools, first consider the program options and select a program length that fits your career goals and lifestyle. The shortest or cheapest route to a credential is not always the best solution, particularly if your long-term goals involve career mobility or further education. When you determine your end goal, choose 3-5 schools in your area that offer accredited programs.
Whether you choose to pursue a certificate, diploma, or associate degree, the process for applying to a campus-based medical billing and coding school is generally straightforward. First you must submit an application, which is typically done online with the school's own application. The CommonApp is not often employed by schools offering medical billing and coding courses. After you submit the application, you must submit your ACT scores (if required) and your high school transcripts. Some schools require applicants to take a pre-application placement exam.
- Application: Most medical billing and coding schools host online admissions applications on their websites. The application requires basic contact information and a short summary of your educational objectives. This may be in the form of a short essay question, or it may require you to write a separate essay and submit it with the application.
- Transcripts: Regardless of your choice of certificate, diploma, or associate degree, you must present proof of your high school diploma or GED in the form of transcripts. These official academic records are formally requested by applicants and sent directly to potential schools. Some schools allow applicants to submit unofficial transcripts themselves.
- Application Fee: The application fee varies by school, but it is generally not excessive. Aspiring medical billers and coders typically pay no more than $100 to apply, and often not more than $50.
Core Courses in a Medical Billing and Coding Program
All medical billing and coding programs devise their own curriculum, but they all emphasize a specific skill set. Longer programs often explore other topics that are adjacent to medical billing and coding work. Below, we've listed five sample courses of a typical medical billing and coding program.
- Body Systems, Disease Processes, and Treatment Procedures
A study of the terminology and abbreviations relative to anatomy and physiology of the integumentary, reproductive, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, nervous, urinary, and digestive systems. Students also explore terminology related to the diagnosis and progression of infectious and chronic diseases, and their appropriate treatments.
- Basic Coding with ICD-10
An overview of concepts, procedures, and terms in ICD-10. Students are introduced to AHIMA's Standards of Ethical Coding, the ICD-10, and the ICD-10's coding guidelines. Students gain familiarity with appropriate coding procedure, and will be expected to properly code fundamental diagnoses and surgical procedures.
- Procedure and Diagnosis Coding
An intermediate study of coding practice and procedure that emphasizes physician services. Students gain a comprehensive understanding of major medical procedures, the indications for them, and the techniques involved in them. Students practice properly coding surgical procedures, laboratory tests, and diagnostic tests, understanding when to query the physician for more information.
- Medical Billing Practice and Procedure
A study of billing and reimbursement standards and best practices. Special topics include claims processing, insurance payment methods, disability, Medicare/Medicaid, TRICARE military insurance, and worker's compensation insurance. Students explore fraud detection, regulatory and compliance requirements, and managed care.
- Healthcare Data Management
An introduction to the medical records systems used in healthcare administration, including storage, numbering and filing systems, indexes, data collection, and registers. State and federal legal implications, HIPAA security provisions, patient confidentiality, and the release of protected health information receive special attention.
Professional Organizations in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding organizations have much to offer students and recent graduates. Most of them offer networking opportunities at local events, and many sponsor large conferences where attendees can earn continuing education credits while mingling with their peers. Association websites commonly host job boards and online continuing education options, as well as work-related advice blogs and legislative analysis. Many provide discounts on products necessary to medical billers and coders. Below are just three of these associations.
This national organization offers credentialing, a jobs board, and extensive networking opportunities for members. AMBA also hosts webinars and standalone online courses about topics of interest to the industry.
AAPC is an enormous credentialing and training organization that also offers professional networking opportunities. Member benefits include a jobs board, product discounts, and free webinars on special topics in the industry.
HBMA is a professional trade association dedicated to revenue cycle management in healthcare. Members enjoy regulatory news announcements and analysis, professional networking opportunities, and a jobs board.