Medical Coding and Billing Online Courses

October 12, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Medical Coding and Billing Online Courses

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Medical Billing and Coding School Programs

Individuals wanting to work in healthcare with minimal schooling should consider a medical billing and coding degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for medical records and health information specialists to increase 8% in 2019-2029, much faster than average.

The BLS reports that this career requires only a postsecondary nondegree award, so earning a degree gives applicants a competitive edge. According to the BLS, medical billing and coding professionals earn a median annual salary of $44,090.

Keep reading to learn more about online medical billing and coding schools. We cover what it takes to become a billing and medical coding professional, how much the degree costs, and scholarships to help along the way.

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Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Top Medical Billing and Coding Schools

#1 Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA
#2 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN
#3 West Georgia Technical College Carrollton, GA
 
 

FAQ's: Medical Billing and Coding Schools

Q. How long does a medical billing and coding degree take?

An associate medical billing and coding degree takes full-time learners two years to complete. A bachelor's typically takes four years to complete.

Q. How much do medical coders make a year?

According to the BLS, medical records and health information specialists make a median annual salary of $44,090. The lowest 10% earn less than $28,800, and the highest 10% earn more than $73,370.

Q. What pays more, medical billing or coding?

According to April 2021 PayScale data, medical billing professionals make $40,270 annually, on average. Medical coders earn an average salary of $42,450.

Q. Is it hard to get a medical coding job?

The BLS projects the need for medical records and health information specialists to grow 8% during 2019-2029. Thanks to the positive projected outlook, degree-holders should find a medical coding job in most regions.

Why Get a Medical Billing and Coding Degree?

Learners may benefit from earning a medical billing and coding degree in many ways. For starters, this program prepares learners for leadership positions in the profession, which often pay higher salaries. Additionally, many medical billing professionals get the option to work from home, providing a flexible lifestyle.

Since medical billing and coding requires minimal schooling, graduates often complete their degrees with less student loan debt. Additionally, online medical billing and coding schools usually cost less than in-person programs. Virtual learners usually do not pay lab fees or campus maintenance fees. In the next section, we dive more into the costs of a medical billing and coding degree.

How Much Does a Medical Billing and Coding Degree Cost?

We suggest contacting prospective medical billing and coding schools directly for exact degree costs. However, knowing national averages gives aspiring college students a baseline figure for comparison. National Center for Education Statistics data reveals bachelor's degree-seekers spent an average of $24,623 on tuition, fees, room, and board in 2018-19. Students at public institutions spent just $18,383 on these expenses in the same year.

Students save money on their education by earning their degrees from online medical billing and coding schools. Living at home with a relative and attending school online saves money on room, board, and commuting. Learners should complete the FAFSA to discover whether they qualify for federally subsidized loans or grants. Finally, scholarships lower the overall tuition price, which we discuss more in a later section.


Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

A college budget includes many components, so it might prove challenging to keep track. To help prospective students form an adequate estimate, we created an affordability calculator that factors in the user's income. This tool provides both an estimated monthly and yearly payment for programs.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Medical Billing and Coding Majors Make?

While exact medical billing and coding degree-holder salaries vary, the BLS provides income data for reference. Medical records and health information specialists earn a median annual salary of $44,090, correlating to $21.20 hourly. The top 10% of earners make more than $73,370, while the lowest 10% earn less than $28,800. Location also influences salary. These specialists earn higher salaries in the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Washington state.

April 2021 PayScale data show how experience influences pay. Certified medical billing and coding specialists with over 20 years of experience average $20.79 per hour. Professionals with less than one year of experience make an average of $15.21 per hour.

Courses in Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Online medical billing and coding schools hone students' communication and technical skills. Enrollees learn how to use software to record patient data electronically, correlate medical terminology with specific codes, and abide by Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act regulations.

The required coursework prepares learners to work in various healthcare facilities, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and doctors' offices. Most medical coding and billing courses involve multiple-choice exams, short essays, and class discussions. Since this profession requires one-on-one conversations with patients, some professors include group projects to refine participants' interpersonal communication skills.

This section highlights three common courses in medical billing and coding degrees, representing a sample curriculum.

Ethics in the Medical Coding Profession

Medical billing and coding professionals view private health information in patient charts daily. This class discusses the importance of keeping medical information secure and private and outlines the legal implications involved. Part of the course includes peer discussions about ethical dilemmas that may occur in the profession.

Medical Terminology and Billing

Students discover which codes correlate with specific medical procedures. Participants must memorize medical terminology vocabulary and learn how to decipher medical notes. Most medical billing and coding schools require a foundations course and an advanced course in this subject.

The Insurance Claim Process

The class covers the typical lifespan of an insurance claim. Learners practice gathering paperwork for hypothetical patients and filling out forms for insurance reimbursement. Enrollees learn how to effectively communicate with insurance companies to ensure eligible services receive coverage.

Certifications and Licensure for Medical Billing and Coding Students

Individuals can earn a medical billing and coding certification to position themselves as desirable job candidates. These career accolades usually require professional experience and an exam. In this section, we highlight three standard certifications for medical billing and coding professionals.

This designation recognizes a professional's achievement and expertise in the medical billing and coding field. The American Academy of Professional Coders administers the exam, which takes roughly 5.5 hours to complete. The exam allows a second attempt that applicants must take within one year of the first attempt. The American Health Information Management Association oversees this certification. To earn this title, individuals must pass a two-hour exam covering 90-115 questions. The test costs $299 for association non-members and $199  for association members. To succeed, testers must know the basics of anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and diagnostic and procedural coding. The American Academy of Professional Coders recommends that professionals with extensive coding experience pursue this certification. This professional designation requires a 150 multiple-choice exam costing $299 online and $399 in person. The online exam allows only one pass attempt, but the in-person exam allows two.

Medical Billing and Coding Schools and Training Online 2021


Shoreline Community College View School Profile Shoreline, WA $3328

From its main campus located 10 miles north of Seattle, Shoreline Community College in Washington serves more than 12,000 campus-based and distance learners. The Health Informatics & Information Management department offers a medical coding and reimbursement certificate for students seeking a flexible, industry-informed program. Before enrolling, all distance learners should speak with departmental administrators to create a schedule due to some classes not being offered each quarter. Depending on their academic background, degree seekers may also need to take a number of prerequisites before starting on the main body of coursework. Once they meet all initial requirements, students complete courses in areas of hospital and clinic records, basic ICD-10 coding, legal aspects of health care and medical reimbursement. In their final semester, they work in a health care setting to complete a medical coding practicum. Full-time learners finish in 2 years while part-time degree seekers need 3 years. SCC's program receives approval from the American Health Information Management Association and is recognized as a Comprehensive Medical Coding Program. Upon graduation, students can sit for the Certified Coding Specialist – Physicians Office examination or the Certified Coding Associate credential. They are also eligible for the American Academy of Professional Coders' Certified Professional Coding exam. Residents of Washington pay $105.53 per credit while those living in other states pay $119.67. Non-U.S. citizens pay $282.95 per credit. Once enrolled, learners can take advantage of academic advising, career planning, disability services, tech support and institutional scholarships.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College View School Profile Fergus Falls, MN $4824

With 4 campuses spread across the state and a distance learning program that serves students further afield, Minnesota State Community and Technical College serves approximately 9,000 students annually with a variety of associate degrees and diplomas. The online arm of the school provides a medical coding and insurance diploma for individuals seeking the skills and qualifications needed to work in a variety of medical settings. M State's program requires 50 credits and covers topics such as diagnosis and procedure coding, appointment schedule management, medical terminology and legal/ethical behavior in healthcare settings. Every distance learner at M State receives a laptop to help ensure they possess the proper technology for completing assignments. After finishing the program, graduates have gone on to roles in a variety of settings, such as insurance companies, governmental agencies, home health care settings, medical clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. They also possess the education needed to sit for national coding certification examinations. Despite being a larger school, M State maintains small class sizes and ensures degree seekers – many of whom work while enrolled – have the flexibility required to succeed. Regardless of whether students live in Minnesota or another state, each pays the same rate of $160.70 per credit. The school also provides a number of scholarships for students demonstrating merit and/or academic need. While enrolled, students receive support in the form of career services, resume preparation, academic advising and technical assistance. They can also access parts of the library's digital collection.

West Georgia Technical College View School Profile Carrollton, GA $2136

West Georgia Technical College, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, provides students with the opportunity to earn an undergraduate certificate in medical coding, which can be used to enter the medical field or be applied toward future degrees. You will complete 24 credit hours in coursework such as Medical Terminology for Allied Health Sciences, Human Diseases, Medical Procedural Billing, and Structure and Function of the Human Body. A number of resources are available to support you while you complete your academic journey. Student Success Services connects learners to tutoring via the platform Upswing. There are tutorials and an online Help Desk to assist in navigating your virtual classroom, which is implemented on the web platform Blackboard Learn. Additionally, Mentor Connection links peers together to create a safe and welcoming campus community. Toward the end of your studies, you can utilize Career Services to explore open positions or gain interview skills. Many graduates decide to pursue their bachelor's degree, while others enter positions of medical coding for nurses and physicians. Although the school's online programs take part in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, you can speak with an adviser regarding transfer credits and degree recognition in your location of residency. Interested students need to possess a high school diploma or GED. Prior to enrollment, they will either take an Accuplacer placement test or submit ACT or SAT scores. There are a number of school-funded scholarship opportunities as well as state-sponsored grants to help cut down on costs.

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