Online Medical Billing and Coding Colleges and Universities

As healthcare grows more complex and dependent on computer technology, healthcare organizations will adapt by hiring employees with specialized skills, such as medical billers or coders. A medical biller or coder obtains reimbursement for doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers from health insurance companies and/or the government (e.g. Medicare). He or she translates the care, treatments, and services a patient receives into ‘codes’ according to particular classification systems. The coder then sends the bill to the insurance company, which then pays the health care provider according to these codes. Medical billers and coders act as the liaison between doctors and health insurance companies. Graduating from online medical billing and coding colleges teaches the students medical terminology, health insurance rules and regulations, and technical skills needed to succeed in this in-demand profession. Due to the huge growth in health care in the coming decades, prospects for medical billers and coders are above average.

Program Courses: Overview

Some students receive one year certificates from accredited online medical billing and coding colleges, while others earn two year Associate’s degrees. The number of online medical billing and coding courses required to earn these degrees will depend on the program. In addition, the best online medical billing and coding colleges and universities will require coding experience in real-world settings before granting certification. Potential courses (especially for the longer degrees) include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Classification and coding
  • Health information standards
  • Reimbursement methods
  • Database management
  • Data analysis

Skills Taught

Graduates of top online medical billing and coding universities will be well-versed in the daily operations of health care facilities. Medical billers and coders must be highly organized, efficient, and cooperative with others. An online degree in medical billing and coding will teach the following skills:

  • Patient records management
  • HIPAA compliance and other ethical considerations
  • Medical coding
  • Interacting with health insurance companies
  • Coding software skills

Popular Career Paths

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 172,500 medical records and health information technicians currently employed in hospital billing departments, doctor’s offices, and claims processing offices. Many medical billers and coders work in office environments, and interaction with patients is rare. Some, however, work from home, starting their own freelance or consulting business. Some potential career paths for medical coders include:

  • Medical records technicians
  • Health information technicians
  • Freelance biller and coders
  • Consultants (help increase efficiency of hospitals, insurance companies, and government health agencies)

Field Outlook & Salary Information

The growth outlook for medical billers and coders is very strong as the population ages, health care grows, and the switch to electronic health records continues. Current projections estimate that the number of positions will increase by 20% from 2008 to 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical billers and coders can expect to earn between $24,290 and $39,490 a year. The exact salary will depend on education, experience, and the employer (hospital, outpatient care, private practice, etc.).

Continuing Your Education

While most billers and coders work with a certificate or associate’s, obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher will increase job opportunities and wages. Those who wish to take on more responsibility can obtain advanced degrees that will help them transition into the medical and health services management field, where they will be responsible for running entire departments or systems. Degree possibilities include:

  • Master’s degree in health services administration
  • Master’s degree in long-term care administration
  • Master’s degree in health sciences
  • Master’s degree in public health
  • Master’s degree in public administration

Students seeking online medical billing and coding degrees from online colleges and universities will find their time and money to be well spent. The demand for this employment and the flexibility of the job offerings will ensure a successful career.