Online Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree

Overview

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For individuals who are interested in a career in the health care industry but do not want to work directly with patients, a career as a medical billing and coding specialist may be a great choice.

Medical billing and coding specialists understand medical records and work with physicians to transcribe patient medical records into coding classification software used for insurance reimbursement purposes.

An online medical billing and coding associate degree program teaches students the fundamentals of coding and health information management and prepares students for certification exams. There are various certifications available and most employers prefer to hire individuals with professional certification, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While students can obtain some certifications without an associate degree, an associate degree can accelerate the process of getting a bachelor’s degree in a health science or other health care-related field down the road.

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Course Work

Example courses
Health data requirements and standards
Health care statistics
Pharmacology
Coding and classification systems
Health care billing and reimbursement systems
Electronic health records in medical practices

Medical billing and coding specialists need to be extremely detail oriented and understand proper medical terminology in order to transcribe verbal descriptions of diseases, injuries and procedures into clinical codes for claims processing. They also understand government regulations and can work as a liaison between health clinicians and billing offices.

An associate degree in medical billing and coding includes courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, classification and coding systems, health care reimbursement methods and computer systems.

Job Outlook

Average salaries by certification*
Certified professional coder $48,000
Certified professional coder – payer $55,000
Certified professional coder – hospital outpatient $56,000
Certified professional medical auditor $59,000

*per AAPC

Most employers require medical billing and coding specialists to obtain certification through a nationally recognized professional organization such as the AAPC, a medical coding training and certification association, or the American Health Information Management Association. Certification requirements vary, but most require at least two years of experience or the completion of an approved education program.

Medical billing and coding specialists typically work in physician offices, hospitals, clinics, billing companies or medical management organizations. The median salary for medical billing and coding specialists is $31,000, according to PayScale, an online salary database. With an associate degree, medical billing and coding specialists make 9 percent more on average than those who have not attended college, according to a survey by AAPC.

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