Medical Coding and Billing Schools - How to Find the Best Schools for You

The best medical coding and billing schools for you depend on whether you would prefer to work as a medical billing specialist or to work as both a medical biller and a medical coder. While there can be some overlap in both job responsibilities, especially in a smaller doctor office, the educational and job expectations can differ significantly, so you should envision what your career in billing and coding will look like in order to choose the best program for your interests.

Medical Billing Specialist's primary responsibility is typically to get their doctors paid for the services they have performed. This involves entering the patient and insurance information,verifying benefits, obtaining authorization, filing the claims electronically or via paper, following up with the insurance companies on all unpaid or underpaid claims, entering insurance payments and adjustments, then billing patients for any remaining balance. Unlike a coding specialist, the medical billing professional is rarely involved in the actual coding of a claim.

Medical Coding Specialist is required to have an in-depth knowledge of every medical code for the providers specialty. A firm understanding of medical coding rules and regulations, including compliance with federal regulation and insurance requirements, is imperative. The medical coding specialist actually assigns the specific codes used for each medical diagnosis or procedure, which in turn are sent to the insurance companies for reimbursement. Accuracy is very important; otherwise the medical provider will not be paid appropriately for services performed. As of October 1, 2015, medical coders will need to use the latest codes as specified by the ICD 10; the ICD 9 codes which have been used for years will no longer be accepted. Knowledge of both the ICD 9 and ICD 10 will be necessary for a number of months or even years as the older claims continue to be processed.

Medical Coding and Billing Schools

Medical billing schooling with an emphasis on coding should help prepare a medical coding specialist for the rigorous demands of coding in a doctor's office, hospital, clinic, nursing home or other health care facility.

medical coding specialist working in a large medical practice or hospital might spend most of the workday reviewing the patient's charts and determining the most appropriate procedure codes, diagnosis codes and modifiers for each patient's visit. The codes are then entered into the Provider's data base for the medical billing specialist to bill the insurance company. In a smaller clinic or doctor's office, the coding specialist might also be responsible for all the insurance and patient billing in addition to their coding responsibilities.

Do Medical Billing and Coding Specialists Need to be Certified?

You need something to differentiate yourself from other job seekers in this competitive job market.

Previous medical billing and/or coding experience is obviously always going to be very high on a potential employers list. Anything above a high school diploma will also help you stand out, especially from one of the accredited schools. Many coding and billing professionals have a 2-year Associate’s degree and/or several years experience before taking the exam for medical coding certification.

As of this writing you are not legally required to obtain certification in order to work in the medical billing and coding field, but is highly recommended for Medical Coders since many employers prefer to hire those who are certified.Medical Billing Specialists may see some benefit from being certified when they go to look for a job, but not nearly as much as Coding Specialists.Once you complete your training and are ready to sit for the exam, the two main medical coding certification organizations are the American Academy of Professional Coder's (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA).

One important reminder: Medical billing and coding can be very difficult to break into if you don’t have experience. Try to find medical billing schools or programs that assist you in getting hands-on experience whether through an internship or volunteering in the billing department of a hospital or doctor's office. Also look for medical billing schools that offer job placement assistance and be sure to compare AND verify the success rate each school has had in helping their graduates find full time employment.

Medical billing and coding degree programs are offered by a large number of community colleges, four year colleges around the country and online schools. Many medical billing schools offer you a choice of taking your courses online, on campus or a combination of the two.

Choose your state from the list below for more information about medical billing and coding schools in your area. We've also devoted time discussing the employment opportunities in various areas of each state, along with mean hourly and annual wage information to help you determine where the best opportunities exist, and hopefully help you gain employment after your medical billing schooling ends.

Alabama Kentucky North Dakota
Alaska Louisiana Ohio
Arizona Maine Oklahoma
Arkansas Maryland Oregon
California Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Colorado Michigan Rhode Island
Connecticut Minnesota South Carolina
Delaware Mississippi South Dakota
District of Columbia Missouri Tennessee
Florida Montana Texas
Georgia Nebraska Utah
Hawaii Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico West Virginia
Iowa New York Wisconsin
Kansas North Carolina Wyoming

Are Traditional Medical Coding and Billing Schools Necessary?

If you are interested in starting your own medical billing service or working as a biller in a doctors office, you may have very little to do with the actual coding and might be better off choosing a course such as this Medical Billing Course This online course is geared to those looking to open a medical billing business or work in a doctors office and who want their instruction to come from medical billing professionals and business owners.

They provide you with the opportunity to get hands-on experience by having you apply what you learned utilizing their fully functional medical billing software. You'll practice entering physician data, patient information, posting charges & payments, generating detailed reports and creating electronic and paper claims.

Another possible option for those of you who have some medical billing experience and have ruled out medical billing schools, but are still determined to open your own billing service, a less expensive route would be to invest in a collection of books and materials called Medical Billing Home Business in a Box! The authors, Alice Scott & Michele Redmond, have owned a successful medical billing business for over 16 years and have put together their most popular books and supporting documents at a special price help you get a good start with your new billing business.

Avoid Medical Coding and Billing Schools Scams Unfortunately, some less-than-reputable medical coding and billing schools exist, and should be avoided at all costs. But how do you recognize them as scams? Use these tips to separate the quality programs from the ones from which you should steer clear.

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