Home >> Arizona >> Phoenix >> How To Become A Medical Coder


Medical Billing and Coding Online Schools Phoenix AZ

How to Select the Best Medical Coding Course near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona woman medical coder at her computerOnce you have made a decision to become part of the healthcare profession by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Phoenix AZ, it's essential that you choose the appropriate school so that you receive the necessary education to ensure your success. As you no doubt know, healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and a growing number of options are available both online and on campus to receive the training that you need. But just where do you start? A number of aspiring students start by looking for programs that are within commuting distance of their homes and then comparing tuition. Or they might search the internet looking for online classes and select the cheapest one. But while location and cost are significant issues when making your selection, they should not be the only ones when researching medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifications as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will review a list of topics that you need to ask the medical billing and coding training programs you are assessing so that you can find out what you must know prior to making your decision. But first, let's take a look at what medical coders and billers do and the training and certification options offered.

Medical Coding and Billing Online Training and Certification

hundred dollar bills with stethoscope Phoenix ArizonaIt's essential that you get your training from a reputable school, whether it's a technical school, vocational school or community college. While it is not a requirement in most cases to earn a professional certification, the school you choose should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). The majority of Arizona schools only require that you earn either a high school diploma or a GED to be eligible. The quickest way to becoming either a medical biller or coder (or both) is to obtain a certificate, which typically takes about a year to complete. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more extensive education, which for almost all schools calls for 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical coding and billing are not abundantly offered. After your education has been concluded, although not required in the majority of states, you might want to attain 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 committed 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 program, combined with attaining a professional certification, are the best ways to advance your new profession and succeed in the rapid growing healthcare industry.

Medical Coding Job Description

Phoenix Arizona patient health history

Medical coders are on the front line of the billing systems for Phoenix AZ medical practices and healthcare organizations. They have the responsibility to examine the medical records of patients and convert all services provided into universal codes. These services may be for medical, diagnosis or dental procedures, or any medical supplies or equipment used. There are various 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 rely on information from sources including nursing and physician notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology reports. 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 affect coding as well. Inaccurately coded claims can result in services not being paid for, services being paid at a decreased rate, or the provider being penalized for improper or fraudulent billing. Since improper coding can actually cost Phoenix AZ doctors and hospitals many thousands of dollars in earnings annually, a good medical coder is a necessary asset for any healthcare team. They can operate in every kind of healthcare facility, including private practices, clinics, hospitals and emergency care centers. It is not unusual for seasoned medical coders to operate at home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.

Medical Biller Job Duties

Phoenix Arizona medical insurance documents

As vital as the medical coder's role is, it would be for naught without the collaboration of the medical biller whose efforts produce revenue. Medical billing clerks are extremely important to Phoenix AZ healthcare organizations and are practically responsible for keeping them in business. Frequently the biller and coder are the same man or woman within a healthcare facility, but they can also be 2 independent specialists. When the coder has completed his or her job, the biller utilizes the codes furnished to complete and submit claim forms to insurance carriers, Medicaid or Medicare. After they have been paid by the appropriate organization, patients can then be billed for deductibles or additional out of pocket expenses. On a routine basis, a medical billing professional can also do any of the following:

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

Medical billing clerks not only are employed by family practices, but also Phoenix AZ emergency care facilities, hospitals, medical groups or nursing homes. They can work in any kind of medical facility that depends on the revenues generated by billing patients and third party payers.

Online Medical Biller and Coder Courses

Phoenix Arizona female enrolled in medical billing and coding online coursesIf you are searching for flexibility and the convenience of attending classes in your home, then enrolling in an online medical billing and coding college may be a great alternative. They can be particularly attractive to individuals living in Phoenix AZ who anticipate attending school while still working or have other commitments that make attending classes on campus difficult. And as an additional benefit, online colleges are frequently less expensive than the traditional classroom options. Costs for such things as tuition, commuting and study materials may be decreased or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online schools are reputable. That's why it's important to verify that the online school you select is accredited to guarantee a quality education. We will address the advantages of accreditation in the next segment. Just be sure to check that any online college you are considering is accredited by one of the national accrediting organizations, such as the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are disciplined enough to apply yourself to this type of learning, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.

Questions to Ask Medical Billing and Coding Schools

Now that you have a general idea what a medical biller and coder does, in addition to what training options are available, you need to start the process of comparing schools. But since there many training options available at community colleges as well as technical, trade and vocational schools within the Phoenix AZ area, you need to have a ready list of questions in order to analyze each one. And when you include all of the online colleges that offer medical coding and billing classes, the task can become rather formidable. As we have already addressed, expense and location are going to be relevant issues, especially if you have a limited budget and will be traveling to classes from your Phoenix home. And whether or not the program and school are accredited must be part of your vetting process as well. So let's take a look at some of the additional questions that you should ask the programs you are looking at so that you can evaluate each one and make the best choice.

Is the Program Accredited? It's essential that the program and college you pick are accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online college, it may also receive 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 could help with your future employment as well. A number of Phoenix AZ healthcare organizations will only hire entry level applicants that have completed an accredited medical billing and coding training course. And financial assistance and student loans are in many cases only obtainable for programs that have earned an accreditation.

What is the School's Reputation? Prior to choosing a medical billing and coding school, check out what its reputation and ranking are among other schools. This is particularly relevant if you have no experience in the profession, since potential employers will primarily be evaluating you based on the quality of your education. As we have addressed, confirming that the college is accredited is a first step. Checking with college rating organizations, for example U.S. News and World Report, can validate the quality of the school as well. Another option is to get in touch with several Phoenix AZ healthcare organizations that you might have an interest in working for and ask which colleges they suggest. Bear in mind that even if the school itself does not have an outstanding reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be well regarded.

Is there an Employment Referral Program? Finding employment in Phoenix AZ after graduation in your new profession can be challenging without the help of a job placement program. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is an excellent indication that the coding and billing school has a significant network of healthcare employers where they can refer their graduates. It also suggests that the college's graduates are sought after in the marketplace.

Where is the College Located? If you are planning on driving to class from your Phoenix AZ home, then the location of the school will be of prime importance. Naturally if you choose an online medical billing and coding 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 community or junior college, most require a higher tuition for enrollees that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your local area.

What is the Complete Expense? Medical billing and coding training courses can differ in cost based on the type of credential acquired and the length of training furnished. Just keep in mind, tuition is not the only expense for your education. Expenditures also consist of such things as the cost of supplies, books and commuting. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Phoenix AZ. Naturally if you decide to enroll in an online school, a portion of these added costs, particularly for commuting may be lessened or even eliminated.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? A number of students keep working while attending college and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes during the evenings or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, confirm that they are available at those times. If you can only enroll on a part-time schedule, make certain that the school you choose offers that alternative. Also, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn How to Choose a Medical Coding Class

Choose the Best Phoenix AZ Medical Billing and Coding Program 

Enrolling in the right medical billing and coding degree or certificate program is a crucial initial step to help ensure your success in this exciting sector 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 vocational schools, junior colleges and companies that provide training and education in medical billing and coding. As we have reviewed, you can elect to attend classes either on campus or online. It's also imperative that the college you pick has an accredited program with an exceptional reputation within the healthcare field. But however you decide to receive your training, by adhering to the previous guidelines and posing the appropriate questions, you will be better prepared to evaluate your options and pick the ideal medical billing and coding college. And with the appropriate training, you can accomplish your career goal to become a medical billing and coding specialist in Phoenix Arizona.