Home >> Alaska >> Fairbanks >> Billing And Coding Schools


Medical Billing and Coding Online Schools Fairbanks AK

How to Pick the Right Medical Billing Training Classes near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska woman medical biller and coder at her computerNow that you have decided to become part of the healthcare field by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Fairbanks AK, it's crucial that you find the appropriate program so that you receive the necessary education to ensure your success. As you no doubt know, healthcare is one of the fastest growing fields in the Country, and more and more options are available both on campus and online to receive the training that you need. But just where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then comparing cost. Or they may surf the internet looking for online classes and go with the cheapest one. But while location and cost are significant factors when making your selection, they should not be the sole ones when researching medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifiers as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will review a checklist of questions that you need to ask the medical billing and coding schools 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 educational and certification options available.

Medical Billing and Coding Online Instruction and Certification

cash under stethoscope Fairbanks AlaskaIt's essential that you obtain your instruction from a reputable school, whether it's a technical school, vocational school or community college. Although it is not a requirement in many cases to obtain a professional certification, the school you select should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). The majority of Alaska programs just require that you have either a high school diploma or a GED to be eligible. The fastest way to becoming either a medical biller or coder (or both) is to attain a certificate, which usually takes about a year to accomplish. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more extensive education, which for almost all colleges calls for 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical billing and coding are not abundantly offered. After your education has been completed, although not mandated in the majority of states, you may desire to earn a professional certification. Certification is an effective method for those new to the profession to show prospective employers that they are not only qualified but dedicated to their occupation. Some of the organizations that make available 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 program, in conjunction with earning a professional certification, are the most effective ways to accelerate your new career and succeed in the rapid growing medical care field.

Medical Coding Job Summary

Fairbanks Alaska patient health history

Medical coders work on the front line of the billing systems for Fairbanks AK medical practices and hospitals. Coders have the responsibility to review the medical records of patients and assign universal codes to all services provided. These services can be for medical, diagnosis or dental procedures, or any medical supplies or equipment utilized. 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 use information from sources such as nursing and physician notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology reports. Coders must know not only what total services were provided for accuracy, but must have a working knowledge of all government and private payer regulations that impact coding as well. Incorrectly coded claims may lead to services not being paid for, services being paid for at a decreased rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for improper or fraudulent billing. Since improper coding can literally cost Fairbanks AK hospitals and doctors many thousands of dollars in earnings annually, a reliable medical coder is an important asset for any healthcare organization. They can work in any type of healthcare facility, including private practices, clinics, hospitals and urgent care centers. It is not uncommon for professional medical coders to operate at home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.

Medical Biller Job Functions

Fairbanks Alaska health insurance forms

As crucial as the medical coder's function is, it would be for nothing without the contribution of the medical biller whose efforts generate revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Fairbanks AK medical facilities and are literally responsible for keeping their doors open. Sometimes the coder and biller are the same individual within a medical facility, but they can also be two independent specialists. When the coder has performed his or her job, the biller uses the codes provided to complete and submit claim forms to insurance carriers, 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 regular basis, a medical billing clerk may also do any of the following:

  • Check medical insurance coverages for patients and assist them with billing questions or concerns
  • Check on patient claims submitted and appeal any that have been denied
  • Act as a mediator between the healthcare provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for proper claim resolution
  • Produce and manage Accounts Receivables reports
  • Generate and deal with unpaid patient collections accounts

Medical billing clerks not only work for family practices, but also Fairbanks AK hospitals, urgent care facilities, nursing homes or medical groups. They can work in any kind of healthcare facility that relies on the incomes generated by billing third party payers and patients.

Medical Biller and Coder Online Schools

Fairbanks Alaska woman attending medical billing and coding online coursesIf you are looking for flexibility and the convenience of attending classes at home, then enrolling in an online medical billing and coding course might be a great option. They can be especially attractive to those living in Fairbanks AK who anticipate going to school while still working or have additional obligations that make going to classes on campus difficult. And as an added advantage, online schools are often cheaper than the traditional classroom alternatives. Expenses for such items as tuition, course materials and commuting may be minimized or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online colleges are reputable. For that reason it's essential to verify that any online course you select is accredited to guarantee a premium education. We will review the advantages of accreditation in the next segment. Just be sure to establish that any online school you are looking at is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, such as the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to devote yourself to this mode of learning, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.

Things to Ask Medical Coder and Biller Schools

Once you have a general idea what a medical biller and coder does, in addition to what education options are available, you need to begin the process of comparing colleges. But since there are numerous training options available at community colleges and vocational, technical and trade schools within the Fairbanks AK area, you should have a prepared list of questions in order to evaluate each one. And when you add all of the online schools that offer medical billing and coding classes, the task can become rather daunting. As we have already covered, location and cost are going to be significant factors, particularly if you have a modest budget and will be driving to classes from your Fairbanks home. And whether or not the school and program are accredited should be part of your vetting procedure as well. So let's review several of the other questions that you should ask the schools you are looking at so that you can compare each one and make the best choice.

Is the School Accredited? It's vital that the program and school you decide on are accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, for instance the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online college, it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance 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 Fairbanks AK medical facilities will only employ entry level prospects that have completed an accredited medical coding and billing educational program. And financial aid and student loans are in many cases only obtainable for programs that have earned an accreditation.

What is the School's Reputation? Before choosing a medical billing and coding program, check out what its ranking and reputation are compared to other schools. This is especially important if you have no experience in the industry, since potential employers will mostly be relying on the quality of your education. As we have discussed, verifying that the school is accredited is a first step. Checking with college rating organizations, for instance U.S. News and World Report, can validate the quality of the school also. An alternative is to check with a few Fairbanks AK healthcare organizations that you might have an interest in working for and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if the college itself does not have an outstanding reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be highly regarded.

Is there a Job Placement Program? Finding a job in Fairbanks AK after graduation in your new profession may be difficult without the support of a job placement program. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement 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 considerable network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also implies that the college's graduates are sought after in the marketplace.

Where is the College's Location? If you are planning on commuting to class from your Fairbanks AK home, then the location of the campus will be of significant importance. Naturally if you choose an medical coding and billing online program, then the location of the school will not be a consideration. One thing to keep in mind is that if you go to classes at a junior or community college, many charge a higher tuition for pupils that reside outside of their districts. So you may prefer to first look at those schools that are within your local area.

What is the Overall Expense? Medical billing and coding certification courses can differ in cost based on the type of credential obtained and the amount of training provided. But remember, tuition is not the only cost of your education. Costs also consist of such things as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to get in touch with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Fairbanks AK. Naturally if you decide to enroll in an online college, a portion of these added costs, such as for commuting may be reduced or even eliminated.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? A number of students continue working while going to school and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only attend classes during the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that they are available at those times. If you can only attend on a part time schedule, verify that the college you pick offers that option. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More on How to Choose a Medical Coding Program

Select the Best Fairbanks AK Medical Billing and Coding School 

Enrolling in the ideal medical billing and coding certificate or degree program is a critical first step to help assure your success in this rewarding specialty of medical care. Medical coding and medical billing are two of the fastest growing professions in the health sector. Because of this, there are a lot of vocational schools, junior colleges and companies that provide training and education in medical billing and coding. As we have covered, you can decide to attend classes either on campus or online. It's also important that the college you select has an accredited program with an exceptional reputation within the medical care field. But however you decide to receive your education, by adhering to the previous guidelines and posing the appropriate questions, you will be better prepared to evaluate your options and select the ideal medical billing and coding program. And with the proper education, you can realize your career objective to become a medical billing and coding clerk in Fairbanks Alaska.