How to Choose the Right Medical Billing and Coding College near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the healthcare profession by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Glendale AZ, it's important that you choose the right program so that you receive the proper education to guarantee your success. As you may already know, healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the USA, and more and more options are available both online and on campus to receive the training that you need. But just where does one start? Many future students start by looking for programs that are within commuting distance of their homes and then comparing tuition. Or they may surf the internet looking for online schools and pick the least expensive one. But while cost and location are important factors when making your determination, they should not be the sole ones when comparing medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifications as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will review a checklist of topics that you need to ask the medical billing and coding courses you are researching so that you can learn what you need to know prior to making your decision. Before we do that, let's take a look at what medical billers and coders do and the academic and certification options available.
Medical Coder Job Description
Medical coders are on the front line of the billing systems for Glendale AZ medical practices and healthcare organizations. Coders have the responsibility to analyze 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 equipment or medical supplies utilized. 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 use information from sources such as nursing and physician notes, patient charts, and radiology and lab reports. Medical Coders must know not only what total services were provided for accurate reporting, but must have a functioning knowledge of all private payer and government regulations that affect coding as well. Improperly coded claims can result in services not being paid for, services being paid for at a reduced rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for fraudulent or improper billing. Since improper coding can literally cost Glendale AZ doctors and hospitals multiple thousands of dollars in income each year, a good medical coder is a vital asset for any healthcare team. They can work in every type of healthcare facility, including private practices, clinics, hospitals and urgent care centers. It is not unusual for experienced medical coders to working from home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.
Medical Billing Job Functions
As essential as the medical coder's role is, it would be for naught without the contribution of the medical biller whose labors produce revenue. Medical billing clerks are extremely important to Glendale AZ medical facilities and are literally responsible for keeping their doors open. In many cases the coder and biller can be the same person within a medical facility, but they can also be 2 individual professionals. After the coder has performed her or his task, the biller utilizes the codes provided to complete and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicaid or Medicare. After being adjusted by the appropriate organization, patients can then be charged for deductibles or other out of pocket costs. On a routine basis, a medical biller 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 those that have been denied
- Work as a mediator between the medical provider, the insurance companies and the patients for accurate claim resolution
- Generate and control Accounts Receivables reports
- Create and manage unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billing clerks not only are employed by family practices, but also Glendale AZ hospitals, urgent care facilities, medical groups or nursing homes. They may practice in every kind of medical facility that relies on the revenues generated by billing patients and third party payers.
Medical Coder and Biller Online Training and Certification
It's imperative that you receive your training from a reputable school, whether it's a technical school, vocational school or community college. Although it is not a requirement in most cases to earn a professional certification, the school you choose should be accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). Most Arizona programs simply require that you earn either a high school diploma or a GED to apply. The most expedient way to becoming either a medical biller or coder (or both) is to obtain a certificate, which typically takes about 1 year to accomplish. An Associate Degree is also an option for a more expansive education, which for the majority of schools requires 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical billing and coding are not abundantly available. Once your education has been concluded, although not required in the majority of states, you might desire to attain a professional certification. Certification is a great means for those new to the field to show potential employers that they are not only qualified but dedicated to their career. 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, along with obtaining a professional certification, are the most effective ways to advance your new vocation and succeed in the fast growing medical care field.
Medical Billing and Coding Online Training
If you are searching for flexibility and the convenience of attending classes at home, then selecting an online medical billing and coding program may be an excellent option. They can be especially appealing to those living in Glendale AZ who plan on attending school while still working or have other obligations that make going to classes on campus difficult. And as an additional advantage, online schools are often less expensive than the traditional classroom options. Expenses for such things as tuition, study materials and commuting may be reduced or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online schools are reputable. For that reason it's essential to confirm that the online school you select is accredited to guarantee a premium education. We will address the advantages of accreditation in the next segment. Just be sure to verify that any online training you are looking at is accredited by one of the national accrediting organizations, for example the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are disciplined enough to apply yourself to this style of learning, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Medical Biller and Coder Colleges
Now that you have a better idea what a medical biller and coder does, in addition to what training options are available, you need to start the process of researching colleges. But since there many training options offered at community colleges as well as trade, vocational and technical schools within the Glendale AZ area, you must have a prepared list of questions to assess each one. And when you include all of the online colleges that offer medical billing and coding classes, the project can become rather daunting. As we have already discussed, expense and location are going to be important factors, especially if you have a limited budget and will be traveling to classes from your Glendale residence. And confirming that the school and program are accredited must be part of your vetting procedure also. So let's take a look at some of the additional 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 essential that the program and school you select are accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Not only will accreditation help ensure that the education you receive will be of superior quality, it may help secure future employment also. A number of Glendale AZ medical organizations will only hire entry level prospects that have completed an accredited medical coding and billing training program. And financial aid and student loans are in many cases only available for programs that have earned an accreditation.
What is the Program's Reputation? Before picking a medical billing and coding school, find out what its ranking and reputation are among other programs. This is especially imperative if you have no experience in the field, since potential employers will basically be evaluating you based on the quality of your education. As we have addressed, making sure that the school is accredited is an initial step. Checking with school rating organizations, for example U.S. News and World Report, can validate the quality of the school as well. Another option is to check with a few Glendale AZ medical 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 exceptional reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be well regarded.
Is there an Employment Assistance Program? Obtaining a job in Glendale AZ 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 substantial network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also implies that the school's graduates are sought after in the marketplace.
Where is the School Located? If you are planning on commuting to class from your Glendale AZ residence, then the location of the program will be of prime importance. Of course if you enroll in an medical billing and coding online program, then the location of the school will not be a consideration. One thing to remember is that if you attend classes at a community or junior college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may prefer to first look at those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Overall Expense? Medical coding and billing training courses can vary in cost based on the type of credential earned and the amount of training furnished. But remember, tuition is not the only expense for your education. Expenditures also consist of such things as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to get in touch with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Glendale AZ. Of course if you decide to enroll in an online school, a portion of these additional costs, particularly for commuting may be minimized or even eliminated.
Are Classes Offered that Match your Schedule? A number of students continue working while going to college and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Glendale AZ, confirm that they are available at those times. If you can only attend on a part time schedule, make certain that the school you decide on provides that alternative. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Glendale AZ Medical Billing and Coding School
Choosing the ideal medical billing and coding certificate or degree course is a critical initial step to help ensure your success in this rewarding sector of healthcare. Medical coding and medical billing are 2 of the fastest growing jobs in the health industry. Because of this, there are many trade schools, community colleges and companies that furnish training and education in medical billing and coding. As we have reviewed, you can decide to attend classes either on campus or online. It's also essential that the college you pick has an accredited program with an excellent reputation within the medical care community. But however you choose to receive your training, by adhering to the previous guidelines and asking the right questions, you will be better able to assess your options and choose the ideal medical billing and coding program. And with the proper education, you can realize your career goal to become a medical coding and billing specialist in Glendale Arizona.