In addition to studying billing and coding, an insurance coding diploma program student will get an overview of basic medical terminology, legal issues, and medical office procedures and complete an internship. Some diploma programs require the student to gain practical experience through work in a medical facility. A diploma program usually takes about 9-18 months to complete, depending on the number of credit hours required.
Students must have a high school diploma or a GED certificate prior to applying to an insurance coding program. High school courses in health, computer skills, chemistry, math, and biology may also be beneficial. Students who are interested in pursuing a career in this field may enroll in a vocational diploma program or an associate degree.
Vocational Diplomas in Insurance Coding
Programs in insurance coding teach students how medical care providers and insurance companies use codes to designate procedures and diagnoses. Insurance coding programs also cover the basic application of these codes in medical records and using them when filing claims with insurance companies. Course topics in an insurance coding diploma program may include:
- Basic anatomy
- Medical terminology
- Insurance coding
- Office procedures
- Medical records
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates with diplomas in insurance coding are trained for clerical jobs in the healthcare industry. They may work in hospitals, physicians' and dentists' offices, clinics or insurance companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted the job outlook for medical records and health information technicians, which includes insurance coding specialists, would increase by 11% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). The BLS attributed this growth to an aging population that will require more medical procedures. The median annual income of medical records and health information technicians was $40,350 as of May 2018.
Professional Education and Continuing Education Information
After earning their diploma, insurance coders can make themselves more valuable to employers by obtaining credentials from a professional association. Some groups require an associate's degree for credentialing, but others, such as the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), will allow a coder with a diploma to take the certification exam. A coder can also move ahead by earning a college degree in health information or becoming a specialty coder, working in such areas as cardiology or pediatrics.
Insurance coding diploma programs provide foundational knowledge and practical training with regards to using codes in medical records and health information systems. Individuals who gained a diploma in this field may immediately work in different healthcare facilities, obtain a certification, or take further studies and specialization.