A comprehensive guide to finding the right medical billing course for you.
Getting the right education and certification is the surest method of making sure your career in medical billing or coding is successful and long.
There are 2 parts: a degree or diploma, then specific certification. This article outlines your various medical billing training options
There are several reasons why getting certification is a great idea, among them higher potential pay, more professional respect, and the ability to find jobs more easily.
We talk more about this in the article Why Become a Certified Medical Billing Specialist?, and the benefits of medical coding certification.
BUT it's not absolutely necessary, at least to start out with. One of writers got her start by learning for free on-the-job - click to read how.
You may be able to find medical billing courses at your local community college or university. If you're unsure, have a look at this list of medical billing and coding schools, sorted by state.
If a traditional campus school isn't an option, most courses are now online. These have many advantages: they're highly flexible, and there's a wide variety of schools, programs, and specialties to choose from. Our article on online coding classes has information on how to find these classes, and what to expect with regards to cost and your education.
No matter which route you choose make sure to spend your money only on a course that is accredited.
Most medical billing and coding courses can last anywhere from a 5-week intensive course to a 4-year degree. Courses can cost anywhere from hundreds to several thousand dollars, depending on where it is taken and how long it is.
Your classes at any type of school will teach you about the 3 code sets, types of providers and payers, how the health insurance industry works, and various subtopics like fraud and privacy.
You'll probably also find the general medical billing information section on this site, which has articles on the health insurance system and the billing industry, to be useful.
Of course, the information you'll learn in a medical billing course isn't everything you'll need. Once you eventually get a job, your employer will expect you to have or learn important skills which your formal classes left out.
See this article on your medical billing education outside of the classroom to learn what else you'll need to know.
Getting your certification is the step that confirms you as a professional expert in medical billing or coding. There are 2 certification bodies: AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) and AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association).
You must pay to be a member of either of these organisations, and only then can you take one of their certification exams.
But you may be wondering: what's the difference between a medical billing degree and a medical billing certificate?. A degree teaches you the basics of the medical industry, whereas a certification tells employers that you have enough expertise in a certain area of billing or coding to qualify to work there.
Which medical billing or coding certificate should you get? There are roughly 7 categories of certification, and which one you choose depends on your previous experience and which type of job you want to apply for.
The gold standard is the CPC Certifcation, which proves your skills to any potential employer. This credential is difficult to get, but qualifies you to perform any job in the medical billing or coding field.
One such certification is called the CPC-H (Hospital Outpatient Coder), and demonstrates an ability to code specially for the outpatient setting. This is a very specialized certificate, and as such is a great way to break into medical coding.
Another certification is the CIRCC, which qualifies you to do cardiovascular coding.
There's also the CPC-P, which qualifies you to work in a payer's office.
When it comes time to actually taking the exam, you want to be as prepared as possible! Medical Coding Exam Preparation - Tips and TricksThis list of tips and tricks for passing your medical coding exam may help you.When you eventually become certified, you'll be required to take CEUs (continuing education units) periodically to maintain your skills and certification. One way to do this is through the range of medical billing seminars offered by various organisations.
If a traditional campus school isn't an option, look at online degree schools and colleges.
As with any other program, what you get out of it is what you put in. Do your research, understand the differences between courses, and network for success!
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