How to Select the Right Medical Biller and Coder Program near Auburn Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become part of the healthcare profession by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Auburn AL, it's essential that you choose the right program so that you receive the proper education to guarantee your success. As you probably know, healthcare is among the fastest growing sectors in the United States, and increasingly more options are offered both online and on campus to receive the training that you need. But just where do you start? A number of future students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then comparing cost. Or they might surf the internet looking for online schools and choose the cheapest one. But while cost and location are important factors when making your determination, they should not be the sole ones when evaluating medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifiers as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will review a checklist of topics that you need to ask the medical billing and coding schools you are researching in order to find out what you need to know prior to making your decision. Before we do that, let's take a look at what medical coders and billers do and the educational and certification options available.
Medical Billing and Coding Online Instruction and Certification
It's imperative that you receive your education from a reputable school, whether it's a community college, technical or trade school. Even though it is not a requirement in many cases to attain a professional certification, the school you choose should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). Most Alabama schools simply require that you have either a high school diploma or a GED to qualify. The most expedient way to becoming either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to obtain a certificate, which normally takes about one year to finish. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more comprehensive education, which for almost all programs requires 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees for medical coding and billing are not abundantly offered. Once your training has been completed, although not required in the majority of states, you might want to acquire a professional certification. Certification is an excellent means for those new to the profession to show potential employers that they are not only qualified but committed to their career. A few of the organizations that offer certifications are:
- American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
- Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC).
- The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS).
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Graduating from an accredited medical billing and coding course, combined with obtaining a professional certification, are the most effective ways to advance your new career and succeed in the fast growing healthcare field.
Medical Coder Job Description
Medical coders are on the forefront of the billing systems for Auburn AL private practices and hospitals. Coders have the responsibility to review the medical records of patients and assign universal codes to all services provided. These services may be for diagnosis, medical or dental procedures, or any medical supplies or equipment used. There are several codes that are used in this conversion process, including the following:
- CPT codes (Current Procedural Terminology).
- ICD codes (International Classification of Diseases).
- HCPCS codes (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding).
Medical coders depend on information from sources including physician and nursing notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology reports. Coders must not only know what services were provided in total for accurate reporting, but must have a functioning knowledge of all government and private payer rules that influence coding also. Improperly coded claims can result in services not being paid for, services being paid at a reduced rate, or the provider being penalized for fraudulent or improper billing. Since improper coding can in fact cost Auburn AL hospitals and doctors many thousands of dollars in revenue annually, a good medical coder is a necessary asset to the healthcare team. They can operate in any type of healthcare facility, including family practices, clinics, hospitals and urgent care centers. It is not unusual for seasoned medical coders to work at home as an offsite employee or an independent contractor.
Medical Biller Job Duties
As important as the medical coder's function is, it would be for naught without the collaboration of the medical biller whose efforts produce revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Auburn AL healthcare facilities and are literally responsible for keeping their doors open. Frequently the coder and biller are the same person within a healthcare organization, but they can also be 2 separate professionals. Once the coder has performed her or his task, the biller uses the codes provided to complete and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicaid or Medicare. After being paid by the applicable entity, patients can then be invoiced for deductibles or additional out of pocket expenses. On a routine basis, a medical billing professional might also do any of the following:
- Verify medical insurance coverages for patients and assist them with billing questions or concerns
- Follow up on submitted patient claims and appeal those that have been denied
- Function as an intermediate between the medical provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for correct claim resolution
- Produce and oversee Accounts Receivables reports
- Produce and deal with unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billers not only work for family practices, but also Auburn AL hospitals, urgent care facilities, medical groups or nursing homes. They can work in any kind of medical facility that relies on the incomes generated from billing patients and third party payers.
Medical Biller and Coder Online Courses
If you are interested in convenience and the flexibility of attending classes in your home, then enrolling in a medical billing and coding online school may be a good option. They can be particularly attractive to those living in Auburn AL who plan on going to school while continuing to work or have additional responsibilities that make attending classes on campus difficult. And as an added benefit, online programs are in many cases cheaper than the conventional classroom options. Expenses for such things as tuition, commuting and study materials may be reduced or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online programs are reputable. For that reason it's important to establish that the online course you enroll in is accredited to ensure a premium education. We will review the advantages of accreditation in the next section. Just be sure to verify that any online college you are looking at is accredited by one of the national accrediting organizations, such as the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to devote yourself to this type of learning, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Medical Coding and Billing Colleges
Once you have a better idea what a medical coder and biller does, in addition to what training options are offered, you must begin the process of comparing schools. But since there are numerous training options available at community colleges and trade, vocational and technical schools within the Auburn AL area, you should have a ready list of questions in order to evaluate each one. And when you include all of the online colleges that offer medical coding and billing classes, the task can become somewhat daunting. As we have already covered, cost and location are going to be important factors, especially if you have a limited budget and will be commuting to classes from your Auburn residence. And confirming that the program and school are accredited should be part of your vetting process also. So let's take a look at some of the additional questions that you should ask the programs you are reviewing so that you can compare each one and make the best choice.
Is the School Accredited? It's crucial that the program and school you choose are accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Not only will accreditation help confirm that the education you receive will be of superior quality, it could help with your future employment as well. A number of Auburn AL healthcare organizations will only employ entry level candidates that have completed an accredited medical billing and coding training program. And financial aid and student loans are often only available for schools that have received an accreditation.
What is the School's Reputation? Prior to selecting a medical coding and billing school, check out what its ranking and reputation are among other schools. This is especially relevant if you have no experience in the field, since potential employers will mostly be relying on the quality of your training. As we have discussed, making sure that the school is accredited is an initial step. Checking with college rating organizations, for instance U.S. News and World Report, can confirm the quality of the school also. An alternative is to check with some Auburn AL medical organizations that you may be interested in working for and find out which colleges they recommend. Keep in mind that even if the school itself does not have an outstanding reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be highly regarded.
Is there an Employment Assistance Program? Finding employment in Auburn AL after graduation in your new profession can be difficult without the support of a job assistance program. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is an excellent indication that the billing and coding college has a considerable network of medical care employers where they can place their graduates. It also indicates that the school's graduates are sought after in the marketplace.
Where is the College Located? If you are intending on driving to class from your Auburn AL residence, then the location of the campus will be of significant importance. Obviously if you choose an medical billing and coding online program, then the location of the school will not be a factor. One thing to remember is that if you go to classes at a junior or community college, many charge a higher tuition for pupils that live outside of their districts. So you might prefer to first consider those schools that are within your local area.
What is the Total Cost? Medical billing and coding certification courses can differ in cost based on the type of credential obtained and the length of training provided. But remember, tuition is not the only expense for your education. Costs also consist of such items as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to get in touch with the school's financial assistance department to find out what is available in Auburn AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online college, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting may be lessened or even eliminated.
Are Classes Accessible that Match your Schedule? Many students keep working while attending school and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, make sure that they are offered at those times. If you can only enroll on a part time basis, confirm that the college you choose offers that alternative. Also, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Auburn AL Medical Billing and Coding Training
Picking the ideal medical coding and billing certificate or degree course is a very important first step to help assure your success in this rewarding specialty of medical care. Medical coding and medical billing are two of the fastest expanding careers in the health industry. Because of this, there are numerous vocational schools, community colleges and other institutions that offer education and training in medical billing and coding. As we have covered, you can decide to attend classes either online or on campus. It's also essential that the college you choose offers an accredited program with an outstanding reputation within the medical care industry. But however you choose to receive your education, by adhering to the previous guidelines and asking the right questions, you will be better able to assess your options and pick the ideal medical billing and coding program. And with the proper training, you can realize your career objective to become a medical coding and billing clerk in Auburn Alabama.