Best Online Medical Coding Training Programs: Guide to Online Courses for 2021

in Research   Posted on July 12, 2021  Author: Imed Bouchrika,

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, healthcare employment has been experiencing gradual but consistent growth, especially in administrative work (Thompson, 2018). Of these job opportunities, the employment of medical secretaries, including medical billing and coding specialists, is projected to increase by 8% from 2019 to 2029 in the United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). Given this development, it is not surprising that the availability of online certificate and associate programs in medical billing and coding and similar fields of study like health informatics has been increasing rapidly in the past years.

By earning a certificate or an associate degree in medical billing and coding, students acquire knowledge of managing medical records, applying codes, submitting invoices, and assisting with other business procedures in the healthcare field. As such, they can build careers not only as medical billing and coding specialists but also as transcriptionists and medical assistants.

If you are interested in pursuing this field through an online program, this guide will help you as it provides a list of accredited medical coding programs and other information you need before enrolling in a medical billing and coding program. By having an idea of the best medical coding training programs available online, you can choose which fits best your time and budget.

Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs: Table of contents

  1. Is an online associate’s degree as good as a regular degree?
  2. What to Expect from an Online Medical Billing and Coding Program
  3. Best Online Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs
  4. Best Online Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Is an online associate’s degree as good as a regular degree?

Employers take online associate degrees as seriously as traditional on-campus degree programs. For employers, it does not matter whether applicants earned their degree online or on-campus. In fact, 71% of organizations have hired an applicant with an online degree in the past twelve months (Northeastern University, 2019).

While online degree programs meet the growing demand for higher education from non-traditional populations who could not attend a regular face-to-face degree program, the research “Online Degree Stigma and Stereotypes: A New Instrument and Implications for Diversity in Higher Education” stated that negative stereotypes related to online programs are still prevalent. These experiences of stigma could further act as psychological barriers to academic achievement, employability, and career advancement to online degree holders (Kizilcec et al., 2019).

However, the research also stressed that these negative stereotypes will gradually reduce as the number of online degree holders rapidly increase. In the meantime, online degree holders can highlight their discipline and time management skills when presenting their educational background to an employer.

What to Expect from an Online Medical Billing and Coding Program

Online certificates and associate’s degree programs in medical coding and billing provide aspiring healthcare workers a direct pathway into the field. Although the credit requirements vary by program, students can typically complete their online medical billing and coding certificate in less than two years, while those who take an associate program can finish in two to three years (All Allied Health Schools, n.d).

Medical and coding specialists need expertise in a wide range of areas (Gray, 2021). That being said, the coursework for medical billing and coding programs may include a mix of technical knowledge, healthcare information, and business topics. This combination of subjects equip students with the foundation of knowledge they need to begin a career in medical billing and coding. Such medical billing and coding courses may include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Insurance Claim Procedures
  • Medical Coding
  • Medical Law and Ethics
  • Medical Office Administration
  • Medical Office Technology
  • Medical Terminology
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Number of US Employees in Different Industries

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Healthcare and social assistance: 20498753

Healthcare and social assistance

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Retail trade: 15683147

Retail trade

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Accommodation and food services: 14345140

Accommodation and food services

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Waste management: 12287806

Waste management

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Manufacturing: 11912665

Manufacturing

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Professional, scientific, and technical services: 9111666

Professional, scientific, and technical services

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Construction: 6814979

Construction

Number of US Employees in Different Industries
Finance and insurance: 6499208

Finance and insurance

Source: County Business Patterns, 2018

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Best Online Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Since a lot of the coursework in the healthcare department requires a good deal of memorization, many students take the certificate in medical billing and coding program online (Tressler, 2021). With this, students can study at their own pace and in the environment of their choosing. Here are some of the schools that offer the best medical coding training programs online.

1. Cosumnes River College

  • Credit requirements: 18/36 credits
  • Tuition: $335 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Cosumnes River College has two remote medical billing and coding training programs available to students. The first is the health information coding specialist certificate which takes two years to complete, and the second is the medical insurance billing certificate which can be completed in a year.

The health information coding specialist certificate is a 36-credit program comprising core courses, occupational courses, and electives that could be taken completely or partially online. Meanwhile, the medical insurance billing certificate consists of 18 credits designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in insurance billing in an ambulatory medical office setting.

The programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), respectively.

2. Davenport University

  • Credit requirements: 24 credits
  • Tuition: $241 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

Located in Michigan, Davenport University offers a coding and billing certificate program designed to prepare students to analyze, manage and utilize patient care data and health information resources. This 24-credit program comprises three semesters of seven courses, including reimbursement management, healthcare coding, and medical terminology.

Davenport University’s coding and billing certificate program is accredited by CAHIIM.

3. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

  • Credit requirements: 24 credits
  • Tuition: $151 – $549 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University offers a medical coding certificate program with a 24-credit-hour program consisting of 15-week online modules designed to assist students in learning the basic skills needed to become entry-level coding professionals. The CAHIIM-accredited program includes subjects such as medical terminology, healthcare coding, and anatomy.

4. Hutchinson Community College

  • Credit requirements: 46 credits
  • Tuition: $116 – $147 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Based in Kansas, Hutchinson Community College offers a healthcare coding program that aims to provide students with a solid background on healthcare informatics and prepares them to sit for certification examinations in the field. This 46-credit program that can be finished in two years includes course topics such as pharmacology, CPT coding, reimbursement methodologies, and health information processes.

5. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

  • Credit requirements: 28 credits
  • Tuition: $399 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis online medical coding certificate is a 28-credit-hour program that focuses on pathophysiology, pharmacology, coding, and medical reimbursement. Unlike other certificate programs, IUPUI requires its students to complete prerequisite subjects in anatomy, physiology, and health information at the start of the Online medical coding certificate program. While it seems like a lot of work, credits earned during the program can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management.

The online medical coding certificate program is accredited by CAAHEP.

6. University of Cincinnati

  • Credit requirements: 32 credits
  • Tuition: $251 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

The medical billing and coding certificate program being offered by the University of Cincinnati is a fully online and asynchronous program that students can customize to fit their schedule and pace. This 32-credit program covers subjects such as medical terminology, insurance and billing, and health information ethics.

The CAHIIM-accredited program can be completed within a year if enrolled as a full-time student.

7. Weber State University

  • Credit requirements: 27 credits
  • Tuition: $230 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

Weber State University has a certificate program in healthcare coding and classification consisting of 10 courses dedicated to developing students’ skills in using medical billing and coding technology. The 27-credit program includes classes such as diagnosis coding, ambulatory and physician coding, pharmacology, and general medical terminology.

This medical billing and coding program is fully online, asynchronous, and accredited by CAHIIM.

value of online education credentials

Is an online class as effective as a regular face-to-face class?

Online certificate programs have the same rigorous requirements as their on-campus counterparts and provide students the same advancement opportunities. In fact, the research “Study of the Effectiveness of e-Learning to Conventional Teaching in Medical Undergraduates amid COVID-19 Pandemic” published in the National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology concluded that online classes were equally effective but were not at all better than the conventional classroom teachings (Kaur et al., 2020).

Meanwhile, the results of this study indicated that although student performance is independent of the mode of instruction, certain courses are more challenging to students in the virtual environment than in the classroom. It can also be noted that to some extent, online learning lacks interactive knowledge building between teachers and students. But the research iterated that these limitations create opportunities for students to acquire self-learning skills and methods. Thus, online learning help students develop a diverse set of skills and knowledge.

Best Online Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Different from certificate programs, associate’s degree programs provide a general education curriculum that goes beyond medical billing and coding degree information. Moreover, the credits earned in an associate program count toward earning a bachelor’s degree. Thus, if you are thinking long-term, an associate’s degree program in medical billing and coding is the one for you.

Listed are some of the schools that offer the best medical coding training programs online.

1. Central Maine Community College

  • Credit requirements: 60-62 credits
  • Tuition: $96 – $384 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

Students interested in a career in healthcare can consider the associate of applied science in medical coding and electronic health records being offered by the Central Maine Community College. This online associate program which can be completed in two years provides an overview of medical terminology, CPT and ICD coding, health information technology, and healthcare statistics. It also focuses on the in-demand skills students need to qualify for coding jobs at hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, home health agencies, and insurance companies.

2. Central Texas College

  • Credit requirements: 60 credits
  • Tuition: $95 – $248 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

Central Texas College is offering an associate’s degree program in medical billing and coding with a 60-credit curriculum designed to teach students how coding technologies work and how to assign them in common medical billing and coding procedures. It includes general education courses in business English, composition, humanities, and the social sciences. The curriculum also reviews medical terminology, coding and classification systems, medical insurance, medical software applications, and pharmacology.

3. Highland Community College

  • Credit requirements: 65 credits
  • Tuition: $55 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

Highland Community College offers an associate program in applied science – medical coding that allows students to complete most program requirements entirely online through an asynchronous format. The 65-credit curriculum which can be completed in two years covers a comprehensive overview of medical coding, pathopharmacology, insurance and health information compliance, reimbursement methodologies, and legal and ethical issues in healthcare. It also includes foundational topics in composition, public speaking, science, math, and the humanities.

4. Keiser University

  • Credit requirements: 60 credits
  • Tuition: $267 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

Located in Florida with various satellite campuses both in and out of the US, Keiser University offers an online associate in medical administrative billing and coding program that aims to prepare students to assign accurate medical codes for diagnostic procedures and other services offered by healthcare practitioners. The 60-credit program consists of medical billing and coding courses including medical law and ethics, pharmacology, computerized medical office management, coding, and pathophysiology. The program also requires students to complete a virtual coding practicum.

5. Metropolitan Community College

  • Credit requirements: 96 credits
  • Tuition: $66 – $99 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

Metropolitan Community College offers an associate’s degree program in health information management systems with a focus in medical coding and billing aims to develop the skills that students need to gain entry-level employment at healthcare facilities and insurance companies. This program takes about two years to complete and covers topics like clinical coding, disease processes, introduction to insurance, medical terminology, and an overview of healthcare careers.

6. Northland Community and Technical College

  • Credit requirements: 60 credits
  • Tuition: $199 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

The Northland Community and Technical College has an online associate’s degree program in applied science for medical coding specialist designed to train students in common medical billing processes, including patient account management, diagnosis and procedure coding, and insurance claim processing. This 60-credit curriculum which can be completed in two years consists of subjects such as medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, and human disease conditions. In addition to traditional coursework, the program includes a medical simulation course that aims to provide an internship-like experience.

7. Northwest Technical College

  • Credit requirements: 60 credits
  • Tuition: $199 per credit hour
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous

The associate of applied science in medical coding program being offered by Northwest Technical College focuses on providing students with comprehensive training using nationally recognized coding systems. The 60-credit program includes coursework in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, medical billing, and insurance, as well as college-level courses in writing, bioethical issues in contemporary society, general psychology, business communications, and customer relations management. It also prepares students for entry-level coding jobs at hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, long-term care facilities, and government agencies.

How to Choose the Best Medical Billing and Coding Program

To meet the increasing demand for medical billing and coding specialists, more colleges and universities are offering certificate and associate’s degree programs in medical billing and coding. Although this gives prospective students a wealth of options, this also makes it difficult to decide where to earn a diploma or degree.

In searching for the best medical billing and coding program, one should consider the credit requirements, available concentrations, instruction style, and cost of the program. All accredited medical coding certificate programs can prepare anyone for success in the workplace. However, an online medical billing and coding certificate or associate’s degree program best fits those who want increased flexibility in their education.

 

References:

  1. All Allied Health Schools. (n.d). Medical billing and coding degree: Degrees, program options & accreditation. All Allied Health Schools.
  2. Dowell, E. (2020). Census bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns provides data on over 1,200 industries. US Census Bureau.
  3. Gray, S. (2021). Best online medical billing and coding classes. Very well health.
  4. Kaur, N., Dwivedi, D., Arora, J., & Gandhi, A. (2020). Study of the effectiveness of e-learning to conventional teaching in medical undergraduates amid COVID-19 pandemic. National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 10(7), 563-567. DOI: 10.5455/njppp.2020.10.04096202028042020
  5. Kizilcec, R., Davis, D., & Wang, E. (2019).Online degree stigma and stereotypes: A new instrument and implications for diversity in higher education. SSRN.
  6. Knerl, L. (2019). What Employers Really Think about Your Online Degree. Northeastern University.
  7. Thompson, D. (2018). Health care just became the U.S.’s largest employer. The Atlantic.
  8. Tressler, K. (2021). Medical coding career guide [2021]. Ultimate Medical Academy.
  9. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Medical records and health information specialists. Occupational Outlook Handbook.