How to Enroll In the Best Medical Billing School near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the healthcare profession by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Juneau AK, 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 industries in the Country, and a growing number of options are available both online and on campus to get the training that you need. But just where do you start? Many aspiring students begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences 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 important issues when making your choice, they should not be the only ones when researching medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifications as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will go over a list of questions that you need to ask the medical billing and coding schools you are evaluating so that you can learn what you need to know prior to making your decision. But first, let's take a look at what medical billers and coders do and the training and certification options offered.
Medical Coding and Billing Online Education and Certification
It's imperative that you get your training from a reputable school, whether it's a community college, technical or trade school. Although it is not a requirement in most cases to earn a professional certification, the school you enroll in should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). The majority of Alaska colleges just require that you have 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 earn a certificate, which usually takes about a year to accomplish. An Associate Degree is also an option for a more extensive education, which for most schools calls for 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical billing and coding are not widely available. After your education has been concluded, although not required in most states, you may want to earn 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 dedicated 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).
Completing an accredited medical billing and coding course, in conjunction with earning a professional certification, are the most effective ways to accelerate your new vocation and succeed in the rapid growing healthcare industry.
Medical Coder Job Summary
Medical coders work on the forefront of the billing systems for Juneau AK private practices and hospitals. Coders have the responsibility to examine the treatment records of patients and convert all services provided into universal codes. These services may be for medical, diagnosis or dental procedures, or any equipment or medical supplies 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 such as nursing and physician notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology 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 impact coding as well. Inaccurately coded claims may lead to services not being covered, services being paid for at a decreased rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for fraudulent or improper billing. Since improper coding can actually cost Juneau AK physicians and medical facilities many thousands of dollars in income each year, a reliable medical coder is a necessary asset to the healthcare organization. They can work in every type of healthcare facility, including private practices, clinics, hospitals and urgent care centers. It is not unusual for seasoned medical coders to working from home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.
Medical Biller Job Functions
As important as the medical coder's function is, it would be for nothing without the contribution of the medical biller whose labors bring in revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Juneau AK medical facilities and are literally responsible for keeping their doors open. Frequently the biller and coder are the same man or woman within a healthcare facility, but they can also be two independent specialists. After the coder has carried out his or her duty, the biller utilizes the codes furnished to complete and submit claim forms to insurance carriers, Medicare or Medicaid. After they have been paid by the applicable entity, patients can then be charged for deductibles and additional out of pocket expenses. On a routine basis, a medical billing clerk may also do any of the following:
- Confirm health insurance coverages for patients and assist them with billing concerns or questions
- Follow up on patient claims submitted and appeal those that have been denied
- Function as an intermediary between the medical provider, the insurance companies and the patients for accurate claim settlement
- Create and oversee Accounts Receivables reports
- Create and take care of unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billing clerks not only work for family practices, but also Juneau AK emergency care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes or medical groups. They can work in any type of healthcare facility that depends on the incomes generated from billing patients and third party payers.
Medical Billing and Coding Online Colleges
If you are interested in convenience and the flexibility of attending classes from home, then enrolling in a medical billing and coding online college might be a great alternative. They can be especially attractive to individuals living in Juneau AK who anticipate attending school while continuing to work or have additional obligations that make going to classes on campus challenging. And as an additional advantage, online schools are in many cases less expensive than the conventional classroom options. Expenses for such things as tuition, commuting and study materials may be decreased or eliminated. But be careful, as not all online colleges are reputable. That's why it's important to establish that the online college you select is accredited to ensure a superior education. We will cover the benefits of accreditation in the next section. Just make sure to establish that any online classes you are considering is accredited by one of the national accrediting organizations, for instance the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to devote yourself to this type of learning, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Medical Coding and Billing Programs
Once you have a better idea what a medical biller and coder does, as well as what training options are available, you need to start the process of comparing schools. But since there many training options available at community colleges and vocational, technical and trade schools within the Juneau AK area, you need to have a prepared list of questions 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 formidable. As we have already addressed, cost and location are going to be relevant issues, particularly if you have a modest budget and will be driving to classes from your Juneau home. And confirming that the school and program are accredited should be part of your vetting process as well. So let's review a few of the other questions that you should ask the programs you are considering so that you can compare each one and make the ideal choice.
Is the Training Accredited? It's vital that the program and school you decide on are accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Not only will accreditation help ensure that the training you receive will be of superior quality, it may help secure future employment as well. Many Juneau AK healthcare organizations will only employ entry level prospects that have completed an accredited medical coding and billing educational course. And financial assistance and student loans are often only available for schools that have obtained an accreditation.
What is the Program's Reputation? Before choosing a medical billing and coding program, check out what its reputation and ranking are compared to other colleges. This is particularly important if you have no experience in the profession, since potential employers will mainly be relying on the quality of your education. As we have covered, making sure that the college is accredited is an initial step. Checking with college rating organizations, for instance U.S. News and World Report, can validate the quality of the school also. Another option is to get in touch with a few Juneau AK medical organizations that you may be interested in working for and find out which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if the college itself does not have an exceptional reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be well regarded.
Is there a Job Assistance Program? Finding a job in Juneau AK after graduating in your new field may be difficult without the support of a job assistance program. Check if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs and what their job placement rates are. A rapid and high placement rate is a good indication that the billing and coding college has a substantial 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 anticipating commuting to class from your Juneau AK residence, then the location of the school will be of prime importance. Obviously if you choose an medical coding and billing online program, then the location of the college 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 require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may prefer to first look at those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Total Cost? Medical coding and billing training courses can vary in cost based on the type of credential earned and the length of training furnished. But remember, tuition is not the only expense for 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 expense, so don't forget to check with the college's financial aid department to find out what is available in Juneau AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting may be reduced or even eliminated.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Many students keep working while going to college and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Juneau AK, make sure that they are offered at those times. If you can only attend on a part time schedule, make certain that the program you select provides that alternative. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Juneau AK Medical Billing and Coding Program
Picking the ideal medical coding and billing certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to help guarantee your success in this exciting specialty of healthcare. Medical billing and medical coding are 2 of the most rapidly expanding professions in the health industry. Because of this, there are many trade schools, junior colleges and companies that provide education and training in medical coding and billing. As we have reviewed, you can opt to attend classes either on campus or online. It's also essential that the college you choose has an accredited program with an outstanding reputation within the medical care industry. But however you elect to receive your education, by following the previous guidelines and posing the appropriate questions, you will be better qualified to evaluate your options and select the right medical billing and coding program. And with the proper training, you can realize your career objective to become a medical billing and coding clerk in Juneau Alaska.