A stand-alone medical coding program is relatively rare; most programs offer a combined program in both coding and billing. Students utilize classification software to assign codes to specific treatments and diagnoses enabling healthcare providers to be reimbursed by health insurance companies and patients to be properly billed. Some schools offer distance learning options. A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for admission.
Associate's Degree in Medical Coding
The coursework in an associate's degree program in medical coding and billing helps students develop the oral and written communication skills essential for working with medical personnel and insurance companies. Programs typically award an Associate of Science degree. The curriculum includes topics such as:
- Insurance coding
- Health care delivery systems
- Basic and advanced medical terminology
- Billing and reimbursement
Popular Career Options
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical records and health information technicians, which include medical coders, may see a job growth of 15% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). This increase is much faster than average and is attributed to the increase in medical procedures and treatments needed by an aging population. The median salary in May 2015 was $37,110. Medical coding graduates may find employment as:
- Medical coders
- Medical coding specialist
- Medical records technician
- Health information technician
Continuing Education Information
Many coders obtain certification to demonstrate professional knowledge and proficiency. The Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS) offer certifications in coding specialties. To obtain certifications, candidates must pass written examinations.
Associate's degree programs in medical coding are often combined with billing programs and train students in the procedures involved with insurance coding. Graduates may earn optional certification to bolster their employment chances.