Home >> Alabama >> Birmingham >> Medical Billing And Coding Programs


Medical Billing and Coding Online Courses Birmingham AL

How to Pick the Right Medical Billing Program near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama female medical biller entering dataNow that you have made a decision to become part of the healthcare profession by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Birmingham AL, it's important that you select the appropriate school to ensure that you receive the necessary education to ensure your success. As you may already know, healthcare is among the fastest growing fields in the Country, and more and more options are available both online and on campus to get the training that you need. But just where do you start? A number of future students start by searching for programs that are within travelling distance of their homes and then comparing cost. Or they might search the internet looking for online classes and pick the least expensive one. But while location and cost are important issues when making your choice, they should not be the sole ones when researching medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifications as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will go over a list of topics that you should ask the medical billing and coding schools you are evaluating so that you can learn what you need to know before making your selection. But first, let's take a look at what medical billers and coders do and the training and certification options available.

Medical Coding Job Duties

Birmingham Alabama patient health records

Medical coders work on the front line of the billing systems for Birmingham AL private practices and healthcare organizations. Coders have the responsibility to analyze the treatment records of patients and convert all services provided into universal codes. These services may be for diagnosis, medical or dental procedures, or any equipment or medical supplies utilized. There are multiple 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 use information from sources such as nursing and physician notes, patient charts, and radiology and lab reports. Medical Coders must not only know what services were provided in total for accuracy, but must have a functioning knowledge of all government and private payer rules that influence coding also. Inaccurately coded claims can result in services not being covered, services being paid at a decreased rate, or the provider being penalized for fraudulent or improper billing. Since improper coding can literally cost Birmingham AL hospitals and doctors multiple thousands of dollars in revenue every year, a good medical coder is an important asset for any healthcare organization. They can operate in every kind of healthcare facility, including family practices, hospitals, clinics and critical care centers. It is not unusual for professional medical coders to working from home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.

Medical Biller Job Functions

Birmingham Alabama health insurance documents

As crucial as the medical coder's function is, it would be for naught without the contribution of the medical biller whose labors generate revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Birmingham AL medical organizations and are literally responsible for keeping their doors open. Sometimes the biller and coder can be the same man or woman within a medical facility, but they can also be 2 independent specialists. Once the coder has completed his or her job, the biller utilizes the codes furnished to fill out and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid. After they have been paid by the applicable organization, patients can then be billed for deductibles or additional out of pocket costs. On a regular basis, a medical billing clerk may also do any of the following:

  • Confirm medical insurance coverages for patients and help them with billing questions or concerns
  • Check on patient claims submitted and appeal any that have been denied
  • Work as an intermediary between the healthcare provider, the insurance companies and the patients for accurate claim resolution
  • Produce and manage Accounts Receivables reports
  • Create and handle unpaid patient collections accounts

Medical billing clerks not only work for family practices, but also Birmingham AL emergency care facilities, hospitals, medical groups or nursing homes. They may work in every type of medical facility that relies on the revenues generated by billing third party payers and patients.

Medical Coder and Biller Online Training and Certification

cash under stethoscope Birmingham AlabamaIt's important that you obtain your instruction from a reputable school, whether it's a technical school, vocational school or community college. While it is not a requirement in many cases to attain a professional certification, the program you choose should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). The majority of Alabama programs simply require that you earn either a high school diploma or a GED to qualify. The fastest way to become either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to attain a certificate, which generally takes about a year to accomplish. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more comprehensive education, which for most schools requires two years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical billing and coding are not abundantly offered. When your training has been completed, although not mandated in the majority of states, you might want to attain a professional certification. Certification is a great way 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 provide 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 coding and billing course, together with attaining a professional certification, are the best ways to advance your new profession and succeed in the fast growing healthcare field.

Medical Billing and Coding Online Classes

Birmingham Alabama woman enrolled in medical billing and coding online schoolIf you are interested in flexibility and the convenience of attending classes from home, then selecting a medical billing and coding online college might be a good option. They can be particularly attractive to individuals living in Birmingham AL who anticipate going to school while continuing to work or have additional obligations that make attending classes on campus challenging. And as an added benefit, online colleges are in many cases less expensive than the traditional classroom options. Costs for such things as tuition, course materials and commuting may be minimized or eliminated. But be careful, as not all online programs are reputable. That's why it's important to establish that any online school you select is accredited to guarantee a quality education. We will cover the benefits of accreditation in the next segment. Just make sure to verify that any online classes you are researching is accredited by one of the national accrediting organizations, for example the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to devote yourself to this type of learning, then attaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.

Questions to Ask Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Once you have a better idea what a medical biller and coder does, in addition to what education options are offered, you must start the process of researching schools. But since there a large number of training options offered at community colleges and technical, trade and vocational schools within the Birmingham AL area, you must have a ready list of questions in order to assess each one. And when you include all of the online colleges that offer medical coding and billing classes, the task can become somewhat formidable. As we have already addressed, cost and location are going to be significant factors, particularly if you have a limited budget and will be commuting to classes from your Birmingham residence. And verifying that the school and program are accredited should be part of your vetting process also. So let's take a look at some of the other questions that you should ask the colleges you are considering so that you can evaluate each one and make the best choice.

Is the Training Accredited? It's essential that the program and college you pick are accredited by a respected accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Not only will accreditation help confirm that the training you get will be of superior quality, it may help with your future employment also. Many Birmingham AL medical organizations will only hire entry level prospects that have completed an accredited medical billing and coding training program. And financial aid and student loans are often only obtainable for colleges that have obtained an accreditation.

What is the Program's Reputation? Prior to choosing a medical coding and billing college, check out what its ranking and reputation are compared to other programs. This is particularly imperative if you have no experience in the field, since potential employers will primarily be relying on the quality of your education. As we have addressed, making sure that the program is accredited is a first step. Checking with school rating organizations, for example U.S. News and World Report, can validate the quality of the school also. Another option is to contact several Birmingham AL medical organizations that you might have an interest in working for and find out which programs they suggest. Bear in mind that even if the college itself does not have an excellent reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be highly regarded.

Is there an Employment Assistance Program? Obtaining a job in Birmingham AL after graduation in your new field may be challenging without the support of a job assistance program. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is an excellent indication that the billing and coding school has a substantial network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also implies that the college's graduates are in high demand in the marketplace.

Where is the College's Location? If you are anticipating driving to class from your Birmingham AL residence, then the location of the college will be of significant importance. Of course if you select 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 attend classes at a junior or community college, most require a higher tuition for pupils that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first research those schools that are within your local area.

What is the Overall Expense? Medical billing and coding training programs can fluctuate in cost based on the type of credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. But remember, tuition is not the only cost of your education. Expenditures also consist of such things as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial assistance might be available to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to contact the college's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Birmingham AL. Of course if you decide to enroll in an online school, some of these added costs, particularly for commuting may be minimized or even eliminated.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? A number of students keep working while going to school and require a convenient class schedule. If you can only go to classes during the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that they are available at those times. If you can only attend on a part time schedule, make certain that the program you decide on provides that alternative. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Get Info on How to Enroll in a Medical Billing School

Enroll in the Right Birmingham AL Medical Billing and Coding Training 

Selecting the ideal medical coding and billing certificate or degree course is a critical initial step to help assure your success in this rewarding field of healthcare. Medical billing and medical coding are two of the fastest expanding jobs in the medical industry. As a result, there are a lot of vocational schools, community colleges and other institutions that provide education and training in medical coding and billing. As we have covered, you can elect to attend classes either online or on campus. It's also important that the college you select offers an accredited program with an exceptional reputation within the healthcare field. But however you elect to receive your education, by following the previous guidelines and posing the right questions, you will be better qualified to assess your options and pick the ideal medical billing and coding school. And with the appropriate education, you can achieve your career goal to become a medical coding and billing clerk in Birmingham Alabama.