Home >> Alabama >> Mobile >> How To Become A Medical Coder


Medical Billing and Coding Online Schools Mobile AL

How to Find the Best Medical Billing and Coding School near Mobile Alabama

Mobile Alabama female medical coder at her computerNow that you have decided to enter the healthcare profession by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Mobile AL, it's important that you select the right program to ensure that you receive the proper education to guarantee your success. As you may already know, healthcare is one of the fastest growing fields in the United States, and more and more options are available both on campus and online to get the training that you need. But just where do you start? A number of aspiring students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then comparing tuition. Or they may surf the internet looking for online classes and choose the least expensive one. But while location and cost are significant issues when making your selection, they should not be the only ones when comparing medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifications as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover a list of questions that you should ask the medical billing and coding courses you are researching in order to learn 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 training and certification options offered.

Medical Billing and Coding Online Programs and Certification

money with stethoscope Mobile AlabamaIt's imperative that you receive your education from a reputable school, whether it's a trade school, vocational school or community college. While it is not a requirement in many cases to earn a professional certification, the school you choose should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). Most Alabama schools just require that you earn either a high school diploma or a GED to qualify. The quickest way to become either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to obtain a certificate, which typically takes about 1 year to complete. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more expansive education, which for the majority of programs calls for 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees for medical coding and billing are not abundantly available. Once your education has been concluded, although not required in the majority of states, you may want to attain a professional certification. Certification is an excellent method for those new to the field to show prospective employers that they are not only qualified but dedicated to their occupation. Just some 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).

Completing an accredited medical billing and coding course, in conjunction with obtaining a professional certification, are the most effective ways to advance your new profession and succeed in the rapid growing healthcare industry.

Medical Coding Job Description

Mobile Alabama patient medical records

Medical coders work on the forefront of the billing systems for Mobile AL private practices and hospitals. Coders have the responsibility to analyze 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 equipment or medical supplies used. There are several codes that are utilized 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 such as physician and nursing 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 private payer and government rules that influence coding as well. 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 actually cost Mobile AL physicians and medical facilities many thousands of dollars in income every year, a good medical coder is an important asset to the healthcare organization. They can work in any kind of healthcare facility, including private practices, hospitals, clinics and emergency care centers. It is not uncommon for experienced medical coders to work at home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.

Medical Biller Job Functions

Mobile Alabama health insurance forms

As important as the medical coder's role is, it would be for naught without the collaboration of the medical biller whose efforts generate revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Mobile AL medical facilities and are literally responsible for keeping their doors open. Frequently the coder and biller are the same individual within a healthcare facility, but they can also be two separate professionals. After the coder has completed his or her duty, the biller uses the codes provided to complete and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid. After being adjusted by the applicable organization, patients can then be billed for deductibles and additional out of pocket expenses. On a regular basis, a medical biller can also do any of the following:

  • Verify health insurance coverages for patients and assist them with billing concerns or questions
  • Follow up on submitted patient claims and appeal any that have been declined
  • Function as a mediator between the medical provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for proper claim resolution
  • Create and control Accounts Receivables reports
  • Produce and deal with unpaid patient collections accounts

Medical billers not only work for family practices, but also Mobile AL emergency care facilities, hospitals, medical groups or nursing homes. They may work in any type of healthcare facility that depends on the incomes generated by billing patients and third party payers.

Online Medical Billing and Coding Classes

Mobile Alabama student attending medical biller and coder online coursesIf you are looking for convenience and the flexibility of attending classes from home, then enrolling in a medical billing and coding online college may be a great option. They can be particularly attractive to individuals living in Mobile AL who plan on attending school while continuing to work or have additional obligations that make going to classes on campus challenging. And as an added advantage, online schools are frequently less expensive than the standard classroom alternatives. Costs for such items as tuition, course materials and commuting may be minimized or eliminated. But be careful, as not all online colleges are reputable. For that reason it's important to confirm that the online school you enroll in is accredited to ensure a quality education. We will review the benefits of accreditation in the next section. Just be sure to check that any online college you are looking at is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, for instance the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are disciplined enough to devote yourself to this type of learning, then acquiring your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.

Questions to Ask Medical Coding and Billing Schools

Once you have a general idea just what a medical biller and coder does, in addition to what training options are offered, you must begin the process of comparing colleges. But since there many training options available at community colleges and technical, trade and vocational schools within the Mobile AL area, you need to have a prepared list of questions in order to analyze each one. And when you add all of the online schools that offer medical billing and coding classes, the task can become somewhat daunting. As we have already addressed, cost and location are going to be relevant issues, especially if you have a modest budget and will be traveling to classes from your Mobile home. And whether or not the program and school are accredited should be part of your vetting procedure also. So let's take a look at some of the additional questions that you should ask the colleges you are considering so that you can compare each one and make the best choice.

Is the Training Accredited? It's important that the program and college you choose are accredited by a respected accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Not only will accreditation help guarantee that the training you receive will be of superior quality, it could help secure future employment also. A number of Mobile AL healthcare facilities will only employ entry level prospects that have completed an accredited medical billing and coding educational course. And financial aid and student loans are often only obtainable for schools that have obtained an accreditation.

What is the School's Reputation? Prior to enrolling in a medical billing and coding college, check out what its ranking and reputation are compared to other schools. This is especially 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, confirming that the program is accredited is an initial step. Checking with school rating organizations, such as U.S. News and World Report, can confirm the quality of the school as well. An alternative is to contact a few Mobile AL healthcare organizations that you may have an interest in working for and find out which colleges they recommend. Bear in mind that even if the college itself does not have an exceptional reputation, its medical coding and billing program may still be well regarded.

Is there an Employment Placement Program? Obtaining a job in Mobile AL after graduation in your new field may be challenging without the help of a job assistance program. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is a good indication that the billing and coding college has a significant network of medical care employers where they can refer their graduates. It also implies that the college's graduates are sought after in the marketplace.

Where is the School's Location? If you are intending on commuting to class from your Mobile AL home, then the location of the program will be of significant importance. Of course if you choose an medical billing and coding online program, then the location of the school will not be a factor. One thing to keep in mind is that if you attend classes at a community or junior college, many charge a higher tuition for pupils that live outside of their districts. So you might prefer to first look at those schools that are within your local area.

What is the Complete Expense? Medical coding and billing training programs can vary in cost based on the type of credential earned and the length of training provided. Just keep in mind, tuition is not the only cost of your education. Expenditures also include such things as the cost of supplies, books and commuting. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset a portion of the cost, so make sure to check with the college's financial aid department to see what is offered in Mobile AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online college, some of these added costs, such as for commuting may be reduced or even eliminated.

Are Classes Offered that Match your Schedule? A number of students continue working while going to college and require a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mobile AL, confirm that they are offered at those times. If you can only enroll on a part-time schedule, make sure that the college you select offers that option. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family responsibilities.

Get Info on How to Choose a Medical Biller and Coder Program

Enroll in the Right Mobile AL Medical Billing and Coding School 

Picking the right medical billing and coding degree or certificate course is a critical initial step to help guarantee your success in this exciting field of medical care. Medical coding and medical billing are 2 of the most rapidly growing professions in the health sector. Because of this, there are numerous trade schools, community colleges and companies that offer instruction and training in medical coding and billing. As we have reviewed, you can decide to attend classes either online or on campus. It's also essential that the school you pick has an accredited program with an excellent reputation within the medical care field. But however you elect to receive your education, by following the previous guidelines and asking the right questions, you will be better prepared to evaluate your options and pick the ideal medical billing and coding college. And with the proper training, you can realize your career goal to become a medical billing and coding clerk in Mobile Alabama.