Home >> Arizona >> San Tan Valley >> Medical Billing Schools


Medical Coding and Billing Classes Online San Tan Valley AZ

How to Select the Right Medical Billing and Coding School near San Tan Valley Arizona

San Tan Valley Arizona woman medical coder at her computerNow that you have made a decision to enter the healthcare profession by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's crucial that you choose the right school to ensure that you receive the necessary education to ensure your success. As you may already know, healthcare is among the fastest growing industries in the United States, and more and more options are available both on campus and online to obtain the training that you need. But just where do you start? Many aspiring students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then comparing cost. Or they may surf the internet looking for online classes and choose the cheapest one. But while location and cost are significant factors when making your determination, they should not be the only ones when researching medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifiers as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will cover a checklist 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. But first, let's take a look at what medical coders and billers do and the educational and certification options available.

Medical Coder Job Summary

San Tan Valley Arizona patient health history

Medical coders work on the front line of the billing systems for San Tan Valley AZ medical practices and hospitals. They 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 various 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 not only know what services were provided in total for accuracy, but must have a working knowledge of all private payer and government rules that affect coding as well. Inaccurately coded claims may result in services not being paid for, services being paid for at a reduced rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for improper or fraudulent billing. Since improper coding can in fact cost San Tan Valley AZ hospitals and doctors many thousands of dollars in revenue every year, a good medical coder is a necessary asset for any healthcare team. They can operate in every type of healthcare facility, including family practices, clinics, hospitals and urgent care centers. It is not uncommon for professional medical coders to operate at home as an offsite employee or an independent contractor.

Medical Billing Job Functions

San Tan Valley Arizona medical insurance documents

As essential as the medical coder's role is, it would be for nothing without the contribution of the medical biller whose labors produce revenue. Medical billing clerks are extremely important to San Tan Valley AZ medical organizations and are practically responsible for keeping their doors open. Sometimes the biller and coder can be the same individual within a healthcare organization, but they can also be 2 separate specialists. Once the coder has completed her or his duty, the biller utilizes the codes provided to complete and submit claim forms to insurance carriers, Medicaid or Medicare. After they have been adjusted by the appropriate entity, patients can then be invoiced for deductibles and additional out of pocket expenses. On a regular basis, a medical billing professional may also do any of the following:

  • Confirm medical insurance benefits for patients and assist them with billing concerns or questions
  • Check on patient claims submitted and appeal those that have been denied
  • Work as an intermediary between the medical provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for proper claim resolution
  • Produce and oversee Accounts Receivables reports
  • Generate and deal with unpaid patient collections accounts

Medical billers not only work for family practices, but also San Tan Valley AZ hospitals, urgent care facilities, nursing homes or medical groups. They can work in every type of healthcare facility that depends on the incomes generated from billing third party payers and patients.

Medical Coding and Billing Online Training and Certification

cash under stethoscope San Tan Valley ArizonaIt's important that you get your instruction 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 program you enroll in should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). Most Arizona programs simply require that you have either a high school diploma or a GED to be eligible. The most expedient way to becoming either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to obtain a certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. An Associate Degree is also an option for a more extensive education, which for most programs calls for 2 years of studies. Bachelor's Degrees in medical coding and billing are not abundantly available. When your education has been completed, although not mandated in most states, you might desire to acquire a professional certification. Certification is a great way for those new to the field to show potential employers that they are not only qualified but committed to their occupation. Just 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).

Completing an accredited medical billing and coding course, along with earning a professional certification, are the best ways to accelerate your new profession and succeed in the fast growing medical care industry.

Medical Biller and Coder Online Courses

San Tan Valley Arizona student enrolled in medical billing and coding online coursesIf you are interested in flexibility and the convenience of attending classes from home, then selecting a medical billing and coding online course might be a great option. They can be especially attractive to students living in San Tan Valley AZ who plan on attending school while still working or have additional commitments that make going to classes on campus difficult. And as an added advantage, online programs are often less expensive than the standard classroom options. Costs for such things as tuition, commuting and study materials may be minimized or eliminated. But be careful, as not all online colleges are reputable. That's why it's imperative to establish that the online school you enroll in is accredited to ensure a quality education. We will address the benefits of accreditation in the next section. Just be sure to check that any online classes you are researching is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, for example the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are disciplined enough to apply yourself to this type of learning, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.

Questions to Ask Medical Biller and Coder Training Programs

Now that you have a better idea just what a medical biller and coder does, along with what training options are offered, you need to begin the process of researching colleges. But since there a large number of training options offered at community colleges as well as technical, trade and vocational schools within the San Tan Valley AZ area, you must have a ready list of questions in order to analyze each one. And when you include all of the online programs that offer medical coding and billing classes, the project can become somewhat formidable. As we have already discussed, expense and location are going to be important factors, especially if you have a limited budget and will be commuting to classes from your San Tan Valley residence. And confirming that the school and program are accredited should be part of your vetting process as well. So let's review some of the other questions that you should ask the programs you are looking at so that you can analyze each one and make the ideal choice.

Is the Program Accredited? It's essential that the program and college you pick are accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online college, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Not only will accreditation help confirm that the training you receive will be of superior quality, it may help secure future employment also. A number of San Tan Valley AZ healthcare facilities will only employ entry level candidates 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 received an accreditation.

What is the School's Reputation? Before picking a medical coding and billing college, check out what its reputation and ranking are among other programs. This is particularly important if you have no experience in the field, since potential employers will mainly be relying on the quality of your education. As we have discussed, verifying that the program is accredited is a first step. Checking with school rating organizations, such as U.S. News and World Report, can verify the quality of the school as well. Another option is to call a few San Tan Valley AZ medical organizations that you might be interested in working for and ask which programs they recommend. Keep in mind that even when the college itself does not have an exceptional reputation, its medical coding and billing program may still be highly regarded.

Is there a Job Assistance Program? Finding employment in San Tan Valley AZ after graduating in your new profession may be challenging without the support of a job assistance program. Check if the schools you are reviewing 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 school has a considerable network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also implies that the college's graduates are in high demand in the marketplace.

Where is the School's Location? If you are intending on driving to class from your San Tan Valley AZ residence, then the location of the campus will be of prime importance. Of course if you select an online medical billing and coding 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 students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within your local area.

What is the Overall Cost? Medical billing and coding certification courses can fluctuate in cost depending on the type of credential acquired and the amount of training provided. Just keep in mind, tuition is not the only expense for your education. Costs also include such things as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial aid might be available to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to get in touch with the school's financial assistance department to find out what is offered in San Tan Valley AZ. Naturally if you decide to enroll in an online college, some of these added costs, particularly for commuting may be lessened or even eliminated.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Many students continue working while attending school and need a convenient class schedule. If you can only go to classes during the evenings or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that they are available at those times. If you can only enroll on a part time basis, verify that the program you select provides that option. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Choose a Medical Coding Course

Select the Best San Tan Valley AZ Medical Billing and Coding School 

Picking the right medical coding and billing degree or certificate program is a critical initial step to help assure your success in this rewarding field of medical care. Medical coding and medical billing are 2 of the most rapidly growing occupations in the medical industry. As a result, there are numerous trade schools, junior colleges and other institutions that provide training and instruction in medical billing and coding. As we have covered, you can opt 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 medical care field. But however you elect to receive your training, by adhering to the previous guidelines and asking the appropriate questions, you will be better prepared to evaluate your options and pick the ideal medical billing and coding program. And with the appropriate education, you can realize your career goal to become a medical coding and billing clerk in San Tan Valley Arizona.