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Billing and Coding Schools

Article Sources

Sources:

  1. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, 2012-2022, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  2. Medical Coding Certification, AAPC, Accessed September 25, 2014, https://www.aapc.com/certification/medical-coding-certification.aspx
  3. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-1
  4. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes292071.htm
  5. Aims Community College, https://www.aims.edu/student/advising/worksheets/current/Business/certs/intro-medical-coding.pdf
  6. Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, https://www.asumh.edu/academics/degrees-majors-view.html?programSelect=professionalMedicalCoderhealth careBilling
  7. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/health care/Medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-6
  8. Clark College, http://www.clark.edu/academics/catalog/2015/?id=106
  9. Everett Community College, https://www.everettcc.edu/programs/health-safety/health-sciences/medical-coding
  10. Great Basin College, http://www.gbcnv.edu/programs/show.cgi?CRT-MC
  11. Laramie County Community College, https://lccc.wy.edu/programs/healthInformationTechnology/
  12. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, http://catalog.mgccc.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=3&poid=159
  13. Phoenix College, https://www.phoenixcollege.edu/programs/medical-coding-hospital-based
  14. San Juan College, http://www.sanjuancollege.edu/school-of-health-sciences/programs/health-information-technology/mcb-program/
  15. South Georgia Technical College, https://www.southgatech.edu/programs/medical-coding/
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It's not only doctors and nurses who play a vital role in hospitals and doctor offices. Without health care professionals in medical billing and coding (also referred to as medical records and health information technicians), medical organizations could not function properly. These professionals review, protect and organize patient records, manage databases and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement.

Those who attend one of the many medical billing and coding schools aspire to join this integral profession, as either a general health information technician or specifically a medical coder or cancer registrar.

Top Medical Billing and Coding Schools

Medical billing and coding technicians are the professionals who process and maintain patient health information. They code and classify the data, and ensure that it is secure and accurate. The increased use of electronic health records (EHRs), along with an aging population, means that is a growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of health information technicians will expand by 15 percent from 2014 to 2024.

If you're interested in training for this career field and wondering how to get started, the following rankings out of 189 schools can start you off on the right foot. Here are the top 10 medical billing and coding schools in the country that offer both distance education and on-campus programs in medical billing and coding.

1. Everett Community College

Everett Community College ranked well across all the categories we assessed, especially for instructional spending and low tuition rates. Their fully online medical coding specialist program prepares professionals for coding certification and entry-level positions in the field. By the end of the course, students are prepped to have the necessary knowledge of health care, diseases and treatments to correctly code according to industry standards.

  • Location: Everett, Washington
  • Total enrollment: 7,516
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $3,643
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 3
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 1

2. Laramie County Community College

Though this community college in Wyoming is one of the most affordable on our list, it also ranked high for academic support spending per full-time student, an indication of good value for your money. Students enrolled in Laramie County Community College's Health Information Technology and Management program can choose several tracks, including the medical claims coding associate degree and certificate. The certificate program takes three semesters to complete, while the associate degree takes a full two years. Both are offered completely online.

  • Location: Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Total enrollment: 4,388
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $3,144
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 3
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 0

3. Aims Community College

This community college ranked high for instructional spending, academic support spending and graduation rates, which is what earned it a place on our top ten list. Aims Community College offers an introduction to medical transcription and coding through the certificate program that's part of their business technology department. This course covers law ethics, medical terminology, medical office financial management and insurance billing and coding.

  • Location: Greeley, Colorado
  • Total enrollment: 5,001
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,756
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 2
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 0

4. Arkansas State University - Mountain Home

The Mountain Home campus of Arkansas State University made it into our list because of its low in-state tuition and high retention and graduation rates. The school offers two possible tracks for those interested in a career as a health information technician: A technical certificate in professional medical coding, and a certificate of proficiency as a professional medical coder. Both programs prepare graduates to effectively interpret medical documentation for proper reporting.

  • Location: Mountain Home, Arkansas
  • Total enrollment: 1,393
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,736
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 1
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 0

5. Great Basin College

This college in Nevada had one of the highest retention rates and it ranked 2nd out of 189 schools for its distance education participation. The online medical billing and coding certificate prepares students to fill out common insurance forms, use medical terms correctly and apply standard codes for procedures.

  • Location: Elko, Nevada
  • Total enrollment: 3,024
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,805
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 2
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 2

6. Clark College

Our data shows this college offers a relatively affordable price tag, while also keeping the cost of books and supplies low. Add to that a high ranking for institutional grants divided by enrollment, and it's clear that Clark College considers the financial interests of its students. The Business Technology Medical Information Department offers a medical billing/coding specialist program, as well as an associate degree in medical billing/coding. Though both prepare professionals for this important work, the associate degree advances these skills and may lead to wider career and income opportunities.

  • Location: Vancouver, Washington
  • Total enrollment: 10,911
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $3,456
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 2
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 0

7. San Juan College

Out of the 189 schools we assessed for this ranking, San Juan College ranked 7th for affordability. It also ranked well for instructional spending per student and institutional grants. This school's medical coder/biller certificate prepares students to take the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA) Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam. This program is offered 100 percent online.

  • Location: Farmington, New Mexico
  • Total enrollment: 8,323
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,474
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 1
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 1

8. Phoenix College

This college ranked 10th for its low in-state tuition fees, and also performed well in the academic support spending category. Its medical coding program includes both theoretical and laboratory instruction, and prepares graduates for coding certification examinations. The program includes professional practice in an area health care setting.

  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Total enrollment: 12,107
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,046
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 2
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 0

9. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

Our data shows that this community college keeps costs down for its students, based on the comparatively low cost of in-state tuition and books and supplies. Mississippi Gulf Coast also boasted a 4th place ranking for the graduation rate category. The medical office technology program leads to an Associate in Applied Science and the medical billing and coding track can set students up for success in the field of medical transcription.

  • Location: Perkinston, Mississippi
  • Total enrollment: 9,799
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $3,272
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 1
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 0

10. South Georgia Technical College

A high graduation rate, combined with low costs of in-state tuition and books and supplies, puts this technical college on our list of top medical billing and coding schools. The medical coding technical certificate at South Georgia Tech provides a short-term academic credential upon which students can build academic credit. Basic training is provided in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and medical procedure coding skills.

  • Location: Americus, Georgia
  • Total enrollment: 1,658
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,724
  • Total number of degree programs offered: 2
  • Total number of distance education programs offered: 0

Medical billing and coding specializations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), there are three common paths that professionals in medical billing and coding take:

  • Health information technicians: The BLS states that health information technicians "organize and manage health information data by ensuring its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper and electronic systems."
  • Medical coders: Medical coders review patient information for preexisting conditions, retrieve patient records and act as liaisons between the medical provider and the billing office.
  • Cancer registrars: Cancer registrars compile and analyze cancer patients' information, conduct annual follow-ups, review patient records and pathology reports, and take on the crucial task of ensuring assignment of the proper classification codes for diagnosis and treatment of benign tumors and cancers.

Medical billing and coding certifications and degree programs

If you want to get into the medical billing and coding profession, vocational school, technical school or college is most likely in your future.

According to the BLS, health information technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate in health information technology, though some will have an associate degree. Health information technician programs typically include courses in health care statistics, medical terminology, anatomy, health data standards and requirements, reimbursement protocol, and coding software systems. Successful completion of high school courses in health, math, computer science and biology may help with getting accepted into a program.

Employers may prefer professional certification, which typically requires passing an exam and taking continuing education courses to renew certification. Certifications for medical billers and coders include the following:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Professional Coder-Outpatient Hospital (CPC-H)
  • Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
  • Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P)
  • Certified Professional Biller (CPB)

Additionally, there are over a dozen specialty coding certifications, including family practice (CFPC), obstetrics gynecology (COBCG), pediatrics (CPEDC) and more. The Association for the Advancement of Professional Coders (AAPC.com) is the certifying body for these credentials, and more information can be found on its website.

Medical billing and coding career information

According to the BLS, the national mean annual wage of medical records and health information technicians as of May 2013 was $37,710, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $22,700 and the highest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $57,320.

According to the BLS, employment of medical records and health information technicians in America is expected to grow by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Some of the states with the highest percentage of expected growth for medical records and health information technician jobs between 2012 and 2022, according to Projections Central, are:

  • Utah: 32.9 percent growth
  • Louisiana: 28.8 percent growth
  • Arizona: 28.2 percent growth
  • Georgia: 27.1 percent growth
  • Colorado: 27 percent growth

Medical billing and coding is a growing, sustainable field which is integral to medical institutions. If you're interested in joining this career field, earning a certificate or associate in medical billing and coding and/or health information technology may be an important step.

Top School Ranking Methodology

We ranked a set of schools offering undergraduate programs in Medical billing and coding on several criteria pertaining to cost, program availability, and student success, among other factors, using the following data points and the weights specified.

  1. In-state undergraduate tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015: 25%
  2. Estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015: 5%
  3. Total number of degree and certificate programs in criminal justice offered at the bachelor’s level or below, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015: 15%
  4. Admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  5. Total institutional grants relative to enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 5%
  6. Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 7.5%
  7. Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 5%
  8. Graduation rate in 200 percent time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014:7.5%
  9. Flexibility, based on the following seven factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014 and 2015:
    • 20% Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
    • Whether the school offers credit for life experience
    • Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
    • Whether the school offers remedial services
    • Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
    • Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
    • Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
Article Sources
Billing and Coding Schools