How to Earn Your Medical Billing and Coding Degree Online
Even in recessions, the medical field is always in need of qualified applicants for various positions. It really is a recession-proof industry as there will always be people needing medical attention. And while you may not be fond of working in a lab or handling emergencies in the healthcare field, there are plenty of other options where you are working in a more typical office scenario. For instance, medical billing and coding skills can both be learned in one online degree. However, they are two different jobs that can be completed in an office or even from the comfort of home.
Medical billing involves creating bills and insurance claims for patients. It takes a service provided by a healthcare professional and essentially creates a monetary value for it. It can also involve negotiating skills to help the insurance provider and the patient come to an agreement on just what is and is not covered. The approach they take for figuring out just how much a specific service will cost is based on the information provided by the medical coding.
Medical coding is needed for healthcare records and billing purposes. Once a diagnosis is made, procedure is completed, or a medical service is provided, universal numerical codes are assigned to each that is recognized by others in the medical field. The medical coder is able to do this job based on physician notes, hospital records, or a variety of other ways.
Demand for Medical Billing and Coding
There is certainly a growing demand for medical billing and coding professionals. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by the year 2029, there will be a need for 30,000 more billers and coders in medical settings. This is an eight percent growth in the field. Compared to generally a four percent growth across the board for other industries, the billing and coding profession can offer a solid career for any individual interested in the vocation.
The salary range can vary depending upon the region the medical coding or billing job is offered. There are certain areas where they are in demand, and places need them instantly. So the salary could be over $100,000 a year.
However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics statistics, the median annual wage for both would be about $43,000. On the other hand, the American Academy of Professional Coders states that the average salary for medical coding is a little over $53,000. Plus, certified coders can expect to earn a third more than non-certified coders.
Both careers offer plenty of benefits as well. A person can expect health insurance, vacation time every year, sick leave, and perhaps matching percentages for 401k plans. Furthermore, with such demands for medical billing and medical coding, a new employer may offer tuition reimbursement. If they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to ask! When you have a skill that is in short supply, you could improve your circumstances considerably with negotiating.
Earn a Medical Billing and Coding Degree Online
Even just a few years ago, degrees earned online were not valued as highly by some employers. But nowadays, online degrees carry with them just as much respectability as if the person was attending classes in a brick-and-mortar building.
There are plenty of colleges and universities that offer medical billing and coding degrees that can be completed in 18 to 24 months. These are certified programs that will have you starting a promising new career in two years or less.
According to the Best Colleges website, the top five online associate degree programs in medical coding and billing are:
- Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, MN.
- Central Texas College in Killeen, TX.
- Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
- Central Maine Community College in Auburn, ME.
- Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, MN.
If you would like to appear even more impressive to employers, you can earn additional credentials by passing exams in the field such as:
- Certified Professional Biller (CBP) issued by the American Academy of Professional Coders
- Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) issued by the American Medical Billing Certification
- Certified Medical Billing Specialist (CMBS) issued by the Medical Association of Billers
- Certified Professional Coder issued by the American Academy of Professional Coders
- Certified Coding Associate (CCA) issued by the American Health Information Management Association
- Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) issued by the American Health Information Management Association
- Certified Coding Specialist: Physician-based issued by the American Health Information Management Association
Start a New Career in a Short Amount of Time
Becoming a medical biller or coder through an online degree will not take a whole lot of time. In two years or less, you could be earning a significant amount of money in your new career. If you are interested in the medical field but feel more suitable for office work, either of these careers may be exactly what you need.