Colorado Medical Coding and Billing Schools

Colorado medical coding and billing schools are numerous, with a variety of programs to choose from. This is an excellent time to get into this fast-growing field; not only are the number of medical billing positions increasing in the Centennial State, but salaries have increased in every part of the state in the past few years, in many areas dramatically (see specific wage data below).

Colorado Medical Coding and Billing

Colorado is home to over 470 post-secondary educational institutions, many of which offer programs in medical billing. These schools include publicly supported (including research universities, four year state colleges, community colleges and local district colleges), private accredited (which includes for-profit, non-profit, and seminary), area technical, and private occupational institutions. Medical billing coursework ranges from certificate, diploma and degree programs, with students earning a certificate in 9 to12 months, and an Associate's Degree in about two years.

As you research various Colorado medical coding and billing schools, be sure to determine if a program's coursework matches your intended educational and employment goals. Though "medical billing and coding" are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different skills, and not all general medical billing programs offer in-depth medical coding.

Medical coding refers to assigning specific codes to various medical procedures or diagnoses. Often the medical provider determines these codes during or after seeing a patient, but in larger practices or in hospital settings medical coding professionals assign the codes. These codes are then used in the medical billing and reimbursement process; after procedures are coded they are sent to the insurance companies and, depending on whether those codes are covered expenses, payment is issued.

Depending on your career goals, you may not need to be well-versed in medical coding in order to do medical billing; however, if your goal is to work in a setting where coding is likely, then be sure any program you are considering includes a significant coursework focusing on the coding component. Smaller practices, and medical billing home businesses, typically require a basic knowledge of coding, but do not require the more rigorous coursework mentioned above.

Those interested in opening their own medical billing business from home should be sure the programs being considered include topics relevant to running such a home business. Writing a business plan, choosing the appropriate medical billing and coding software, and pricing your services are a few topics which should be covered.

For all programs being considered, ask for a reference list of instructors and students (both current and former), and call them. Ask how well they feel the coursework prepared them for employment, what kind of career placement assistance they received, and what type of real-world experience the instructors have. Ask questions specific to your goals, and you will quickly be able to separate the good from so-so (or worse) programs.

Colorado Medical Coding and Billing Schools and Employment Opportunities

Once you have completed your education at one of the Colorado medical coding and billing schools, the best employment opportunities can be found in the urban areas of Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Lakewood, Fort Collins, Arvada, Pueblo, Westminster, Boulder,and Thornton.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) conducts surveys of hourly and annual wage data every two years. For the most recent report in 2014, Coloradans in the medical billing field earned a mean hourly wage of $21.58 and a mean annual wage of $44,890, which is significantly above the national averages of $17.26 and $35,900 respectively. This represents about a $2,000 increase in annual salary over the last BLS report in 2012.

In addition, North Central Colorado ranked #3 in the nation for top paying non-metropolitan areas for medical billing, where medical billing professionals earn $20.61 per hour and $42,780 per year. Other cities/areas of the state report earnings in the medical billing and coding field as follows:

Area Mean Hourly Wage Mean Annual Wage +/- Change since 2012
Denver - Aurora CO $23.90 $49,710 +9K
Colorado Springs, CO $19.08 $39,680 +9K
Boulder, CO $18.40 $38,270 +$700
Pueblo, CO $21.08 $43,840 +10K
Grand Junction, CO $16.99 $35,330 +1K
North Central CO $20.61 $42,870 +$800
Western CO $19.65 $40,870 +3.5K
East and South CO $17.31 $36,010 +7.5K

As you can see from the third column, many areas of Colorado have seen significant annual salary increases between the two most recent BLS wage data reports: The big winners in Colorado between 2012 and 2014 were East and South Colorado non-metropolitan areas, where they saw an increase of $7,500 per year; Denver, with an increase of $9,000 per year; and Pueblo, with a whopping $10,000 increase per year--which represents over a 20% increase in salary! 

With the U.S.Census Bureau reporting a 16.9% population increase from 2000 to 2010, the prospects for employment in the medical billing and coding field look positive. Population increase means increased need for healthcare services, and the related services of medical billing, making education at one of the Colorado medical coding and billing schools a good investment in your future. And with salary gains of more than 20% in some areas of Colorado over just the last two years, this is an excellent time to get into this fast-growing field.

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