Ranging from eight weeks to approximately two years, certificate and associate's degree programs in medical billing and coding offer coursework in Medicare billing, alongside training in general medical billing methods. Both types of programs cover basic medical terminology and explain the infrastructure of insurance systems and only require a high school education to take part in. Some of these programs feature online study options. Medical billing and coding education programs often prepare students to sit for national certification exams like the one offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders.
Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding
Certificate programs in medical billing and coding are designed to impart the skills necessary for processing healthcare transactions, including basic medical terminology, patient file management, and the intricacies of various insurance systems. Processing Medicare claims is usually taught later in the program so students have the educational foundation to contextualize the Medicare system.
Medicare billing issues, home health benefits, women's health benefits, and payment reimbursement are all points covered in handling Medicare billing processes. Subject matter relating to Medicare billing may include:
- Medicare eligibility
- Federal mandates regarding Medicare
- Processing Medicare claim forms
- Identifying Medicare insurance cards
- Fraud and abuse in Medicare
Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding
The comprehensive curriculum in and associate's degree in medical billing and coding trains students in computer technology, insurance industry issues, administrative functions, and the submission of medical claims. Medicare law and billing practices are discussed and compared to Veterans Affairs, private, state, and federal insurances to give a broad-spectrum overview of various reimbursement practices. Associate's degree programs offer coursework in Medicare billing procedures in conjunction with some general education requirements, including anatomy and physiology. Some other topics of study include:
- Medical terminology
- Insurance laws and regulations
- Coding and billing software
- Completion and submission of medical claims
- Ethics in insurance coding and billing
- Basic pharmacology
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Medical records and health information technician opportunities are expected to increase by as much as 15% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); this is faster-than-average growth compared to other occupations (www.bls.gov). Medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual salary of $37,110 in 2015, the BLS stated.
There are positions available for medical records and health information technicians in a number of organizations, but the most lucrative salaries are offered in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing positions. The BLS reported an average yearly salary of $67,010, as of May 2015, for those employed in the pharmaceutical industry.
According to the BLS, the increased use of medical services by an aging population and general growth in the healthcare and social assistance industries will contribute to a projected job growth among medical secretaries of 21%, much faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS reported, the median annual salary for medical secretaries was $33,040.
The bachelor's degree program most closely related to medical billing and coding is a health information management degree. The coursework combines skills in computer sciences, business organization, health sciences and healthcare management. Students learn how to understand and analyze procedural practices in healthcare organizations relating to coding, billing, human resource management, patient intake, and reimbursements. Graduates are prepared to work in administrative or supervisory healthcare positions.
For those wishing to attain an education in Medicare billing, students can enroll in a certificate or associate's program in medical billing and coding, both of which commonly feature Medicare billing within their curriculum. Graduates can continue their education through a bachelor's degree.