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Online Medical Billing and Coding Associates Degrees
Healthcare occupations are growing quickly. And the advent of new technologies is changing how the industry works on an almost daily basis! So pursuing an online medical billing and coding associates degree might be a perfect way to prepare you for the future. A medical billing and coding associate degree online may help open the door for you to pursue a number of careers in the healthcare field, from medical technician to medical transcriptionist, and more. Training is essential for such a technical field. So if you want to pursue one of these positions, research your options and choose your academic path carefully!
Essentials of a Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree Onlinei
Accredited medical billing and coding schools offer a number of different ways to focus a program for students pursuing a medical billing and coding associate degree online. Regardless of subject, most associate’s degree programs in this field are occupational degrees. Occupational degrees are one of the two main types of degrees at this level. Like all associate’s degrees, occupational degrees usually take about two years of full-time study to complete. This might come out to about 20 classes, or 60 credits, worth of coursework.
Unlike transfer degrees - the other major type of associate’s degree - though, occupational degrees have a very narrow and technical focus. Their coursework generally aims to help students prepare for the specific roles and responsibilities of a career or a group of careers. They typically offer less in the way of general education than a transfer degree.
One way you might be able to easily spot an occupational degree is by whether it has either the word “occupational” or the word “applied” in the title. You may also want to contact the school directly to see what the focus of their programs is. The careers in this field generally do not require more than an associate’s degree. So earning a transfer degree - which is focused on preparing students for a bachelor-level program - may not be the way to go.
Subjects within Medical Billing and Coding Associates Degree Programs
Many students enter school looking for a way to specialize their degree. They do so by honing in a certain topic or skillset within their major or subject. With a field as large as healthcare to work with, medical billing and coding offers opportunities to do just this. For starters, there are two different job roles listed in the field itself!
The specific discipline of medical billing and coding may generally comprise responsibilities related to reviewing patient records.ii This could mean coding them to be read for patient care. It could also mean ensuring that patients are billed correctly. And furthermore, medical billers and coders may help translate patient records into medical statistics in order to help researchers study health trends.
Medical coding and billing may also potentially involve playing the role of liaison between clinics and billing offices. More narrow focus areas might include studying how to work as a cancer registrar, which might involve reading pathology reports, assigning classification codes, and working with patients to track treatment and recovery. Maintaining cancer patient databases may also play into this.
Another discipline in this field is medical transcription. Medical transcription typically involves the conversion of audio notes from a doctor or healthcare worker into written notes.iii Medical transcriptionists translate medical jargon, edit documents and ensure the accuracy of written healthcare reports.
Coursework in a Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree Online
You know already that there area variety of paths to take in your online medical billing and coding associates degree program. But what does each path mean? Different coursework of course!
Depending on the focus you choose, the school you attend, or your own personal preferences, your path to an online associate’s degree in medical billing and coding could take on a number of different looks. Depending on the curriculum of the schools you’re considering, you’ll be faced with different course options and requirements. While it’s impossible to give you a certain list of courses you might be able to take, you may see some of the same subjects offered at many medical billing and coding associate degree online programs. Potential examples of these could include:
- Procedural terminology in medical coding
- Outpatient coding
- Medical reimbursement
- Billing by computer
- Medical law
- Medical ethics
- Processes of applying for medical insurance
- Medical records systems
- Managerial accounting
- Healthcare claim cycles
- Claims processing
- Disease processes
- Professional communications
- Billing and coding simulations
As the curriculum for each school might be quite different, don’t hesitate to contact any program you’re considering to see what their course offerings might include. If there are any subjects you know you want to cover while earning your degree, feel free to confirm with the school that they’ll be offered.
Be sure also to keep an eye out for any other potential requirements – not all of them involve course subjects. Some schools, even for online programs, may require in-person work, such as a residency on campus, an internship or an externship. If this is something that might affect your choice of school, make sure you have all the information you need before you apply for a medical billing and coding associate degree online.
Career Pursuits after Earning an Online Medical Billing and Coding Associates Degree
After completing your degree online, you may be ready to pursue a number of careers, depending on the focus you took during your medical billing and coding associate degree online program. One potential route is to pursue a career as a medical transcriptionist. The entry-level education for this position is the completion of a training program of some kind after the high school level, whether it be a certificate program or an associate’s degree. In 2016, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $35,720.iv
Another potential career pursuit is to seek employment as a medical records and health information technician. Similarly requiring a certificate or associate’s degree as entry-level education, these professionals earned median annual wages totaling $38,040 in 2016.v Their ranks are expected to grow much faster than average, as well, with 27,800 new jobs expected between 2016 and 2026.vi
By far the most common industry to employ individuals that have earned a degree in medical coding is the hospitals industry, with roughly 1.5 million workers. Schools are next, followed by outpatient centers.vii
Start Your Search
With a better idea of what it might look like to earn a medical billing and coding associate degree online, it’s time to start searching for the perfect program for you. You can start by taking a look at the sponsored listings right here on eLearners.com. If you find a program that catches your eye, click through and fill out the form to get more information. School recruiters are on the lookout for the perfect candidate. And maybe that perfect candidate is you!
[i] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2002/winter/art01.pdf | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-2 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm#tab-2 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm#tab-5 | [v] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-5 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-6 | [vii] datausa.io/profile/cip/510713/