While the two titles have some overlap, medical billing and coding are two separate jobs under the same professional umbrella.
A medical coder takes out information from the medical records that are billable.
A medical biller uses the codes provided to put together claims that will be sent to the insurance agency or to the patient as a bill.
The jobs are different, but billing and coding are interchangeable.
Either job is an essential part of a functioning medical team.
If this sounds like a way for you to break into the medical field, you are in luck!
We are going to go through everything you need to know about the online training programs.
- What Courses Are in an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program?
- Can You Earn an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program Certification Completely Online?
- How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program Certification Online?
- How Much Does an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program Certification Cost?
- Benefits of Online Medical Biller Training Programs
- Drawbacks of Online Medical Biller Training Programs
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Medical Biller Training Programs – Summary Table
- Types of Online Medical Biller and Coder Certifications
- Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
- Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
- Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
- Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
- Certified Medical Coder (CMC)
- Certified Outpatient Coding (COC)
- Certified Professional Biller (CPB)
- Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
- Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P)
- Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA)
- Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
- 4 Self-Study Tips for Online Medical Biller and Coder Students
- Becoming a Medical Biller or Coder
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Courses Are in an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program?
The main goal of a medical billing and coding program is that when you graduate, you have the skills for both positions.
These jobs are dependent upon each other, but some doctor’s offices only hire one person and put the roles together.
So, you would need to be able to do both, if necessary.
That means taking classes to learn about billing and coding so you are prepared either way.
Here is an overview of what you’d be expected to sign up for to complete the program:
- Medical Terminology
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Office Procedures
- Medical Billing
- Health Insurance
- Medical Contracts, Ethics, and HIPPA
- Basic Coding Using ICD-9 and ICD-10
- Intermediate Coding
- Advanced Coding
- Coding for Hospital Applications
- Coding for Hospital Billing
- Coding for Medical Offices
- Coding for Physician Billing
Can You Earn an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program Certification Completely Online?
Most certification programs are able to be completed online and usually at your leisure.
There are plenty of accredited programs available online but there are some that are not.
Be careful when selecting a school to get your certificate so that you will not have any issues getting a job in the field once you have successfully finished the program.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program Certification Online?
Students can expect to spend about a year completing the program.
Some programs allow students up to three years to complete their studies.
How Much Does an Online Medical Biller and Coder Program Certification Cost?
Typically, the costs range from $112 per credit hour up to $399.
For the entire program, it would cost $4,000 on the low end and up to $13,000 on the high end.
That is a big difference, but it depends on the school and what is included within the various curriculums.
There might also be a requirement to contribute additional supplies during coursework.
Benefits of Online Medical Biller Training Programs
Study at your own pace
The best thing about doing coursework online is that you can go at your own pace.
There are no strict deadlines for getting through a particular chapter or getting your certification done by a particular date.
Being able to go through things at your own pace means you can spend more time on things that you might have difficulty grasping.
One-on-one work with instructors
When you are particularly challenged, you get to work one on one with instructors.
Communication via e-mail
All the communications will be in writing since they will be through email.
That way, you can always refer back to them in the future.
Drawbacks of Online Medical Biller Training Programs
When doing the program online, students may feel isolated from not having interactions with other students.
To combat that, some programs may have online chat forums for those working towards their certification to connect.
Usually, the professor is part of these forums, in case there are technical questions.
Lack of self-discipline
Another problem can be the lack of self-discipline.
To start and complete each course takes determination and the ability to appropriately self-govern.
If this is not one of your strong suits, you may want to consider planning ahead of time to give yourself a schedule or investigate other class options.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Medical Biller Training Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Medical Biller Training Programs||Drawbacks of Online Medical Biller Training Programs|
|Study at your own pace||Isolation|
|One-on-one work with instructors||Lack of self-discipline|
|Communication via e-mail|
Types of Online Medical Biller and Coder Certifications
Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
The National Healthcareer Association tests you on the skills needed to properly assign codes, prevent fraud, and submit claims.
This would be the standard exam to pass for both types of positions.
Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
Offered by the American Health Information Association, AHIMA, this certification is for someone just starting out with medical coding.
It is designed for use in hospitals and private physician offices.
Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
The next level for medical coding is this certificate, which includes pulling information from medical records for patients.
This is most commonly needed in hospitals.
There is a separate certification for private practice, specialty centers, or other clinics called a Certified Coding Specialist – Physician (CCS-P).
Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
Offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders, students who earn this certification are expert-level medical coders.
They are able to classify medical codes for diagnoses or inpatient procedures, as opposed to being admitted into the hospital.
Certified Medical Coder (CMC)
By this point, you would have a year of experience in medical coding.
It is possible to have less if it is paired with an accredited training course.
Put together by the Practice Management Institute, this is advanced medical coding for outpatient claims.
Certified Outpatient Coding (COC)
You would have at least two years of coding or an associate’s degree to qualify for this certification.
This is expert-level coding in relation to hospitals or surgical centers.
Certified Professional Biller (CPB)
Having an associate’s degree is preferred but not expected for this certification.
This would be for someone who is ready to take on the challenges of the entire revenue cycle.
The candidate for this exam would have a solid understanding of all types of insurance plans, payer policies, and both local and national coverage determinations.
Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
Although an associate’s degree is encouraged, the experience can take the place of the formal degree.
That experience would need to be specific to medical coding.
This test is the most taken of all the tests because it covers so much of both coding and billing.
Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P)
After an amount of experience that allows the student to feel confident in their skills, the exam to achieve this certification starts by checking their comfort level with coding.
This includes knowing the guidelines, reimbursement, and provider coding.
Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA)
Two years of experience in medical auditing is the prerequisite to being able to sit for this exam.
You would be an expert in coding as well as documentation guidelines related to the revenue cycle.
Much of this is for private practice or clinics.
You will also be tested on noncompliance issues of private practices.
Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
By the time you get to this level, you will be experienced in risk adjustment coding or have at least taken a class dedicated to the subject.
Upon sitting for this exam, students will be asked about medical codes used in an office setting.
They would also be tested on working knowledge of the audit process for risk adjustments.
4 Self-Study Tips for Online Medical Biller and Coder Students
1. Get Organized
The best way to get through a load of studies, especially over the course of a year, is to put pen to paper.
Yes, that applies even to a class that’s taught completely online.
Schedule your time and organize your space to maximize your study sessions.
Be sure to give yourself enough time to complete tasks and prepare for exams.
If you pencil yourself in, you are bound to be successful.
2. Write It Down
Speaking of pencil, pen, and paper, one of the best ways to commit anything to memory is to write it down.
Writing down a schedule on a calendar can be great, just like taking down notes on paper.
Have a dedicated notebook that you use as you go through the program.
Take notes by hand instead of typing them.
Keep a list of all the vocabulary words and technical concepts you will need to know as part of a job.
That way, you will always have the ideas handy and can refer back to them at any time.
3. Establish A Place
In addition to having a schedule made out, you need a place to work where you can focus.
Find a spot that is going to be quiet with minimal distractions.
The certification program is online but it does not have to be from home.
Go to the library, head to the park, or even a coffee house.
4. Glance Ahead
As you go through each class, you are going to get a syllabus.
This outline of what the course will entail will help you when you are studying.
Paying attention to what’s coming up will give you insight as you get through the chapters.
Everything is related and the more you look ahead now, the more you will be able to catch in advance.
If you catch it early, it will give you extra time to get various concepts to stick.
Becoming a Medical Biller or Coder
Deciding to go into the medical field is a big decision and requires a real investment in both time and money to get your career off the ground.
It is rewarding and, due to the number of certifications available, it is expected that you can continue to move up the ladder.
The more certifications you get over time, the better your job prospects will continue to be.
If you have the patience and the determination to finish one of the online training programs, you will be set for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are online medical billing and coding schools legit?
There are plenty of schools that have these programs and are 100% accredited.
These programs are accepted in the medical community and will have a high rate of success for their graduates.
Unfortunately, there are always going to be scams on the internet that promote a certificate without having to do any work.
Or there are for-profit schools that are incredibly expensive with a very low hiring rate after program completion.
Be sure to check for accreditation before giving any school your money.
Which is the best certificate to get into medical billing and coding?
For all the certification options, there is a hierarchy.
The most popular is the Certified Professional Coder.
This is used in an outpatient setting such as a clinic.
Having this under your belt will enable you to get started at the entry-level.
How much does it cost to get CPC certified?
After you have gone through the program and completed it, the next step will be to take exams to officially become certified.
In order to take the test, you have to pay an American Academy of Professional Coders membership fee of $170.
The test costs $399.
Some schools have factored the price of the exam into the program, so be sure to ask before signing up.
If you want to test the field before shelling out that kind of dough, there is an Introduction to Medical Coding course that is free to take.
This gives you the chance to decide if this is a field you would like to make a career in.
If not, you did not waste anything but time.
Is medical coding and billing hard?
When you first start, whether you are doing both or not, it will be easy to feel overwhelmed.
There is a lot of info you pack into a year or so of learning.
That is a lot to remember.
On the bright side, if you keep your notes together, you are never really that far from a place to jog your memory.
However, once you get the hang of things, it is going to feel like clockwork.
It takes time and experience to get comfortable, but by no means is it far-fetched.