Guide to Getting Your Medical Coding Associate Degree Online
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Medical coders and billers, who process and transfer medical information for healthcare providers and insurance companies, possess computer skills constantly in demand in the field.
Medical billing and coding play an increasingly crucial role in the healthcare industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the medical records and health technology field will grow 9% from 2020-2030. Although medical billing and coding associate degree graduates can work in related fields, they can anticipate well-paying careers with a median annual salary of $45,240.
Here’s what to expect in your associate degree program:
Earning Your Medical Coding Associate Degree Online
Pursuing an associate degree in medical billing and coding online gives students an affordable and flexible route to employment. Online students do not need to pay the commuting and accommodation costs that often accompany on-campus study.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to go the certificate route, you can check our guide on earning an online medical coding certificate.
How Long Does It Take to Earn Your Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree Online?
Most online associate degrees in medical billing and coding require 60-90 credits and take about two years to complete. Two-year associate programs usually entail about 20 courses.
Admissions Requirements for a Medical Coding Associate Degree Online
Online medical billing and coding associate degree applicants need a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. Many schools do not require standardized testing but expect a minimum GPA of "C" or better in prior relevant coursework, usually math and science. Some schools require prerequisite introductory courses in biology and allied health.
Courses in a Medical Coding Associate Degree Online Program
Core courses in medical coding associate degree online programs include:
This course familiarizes students with medical language. Students learn to analyze and identify terminology by recognizing common medical prefixes, suffixes, roots, and combinations of terms. Medical terminology courses also emphasize correct spelling and pronunciation of these terms and recognition of common symbols and abbreviations.
Foundations of Health Services
This course gives an overview of the organization and functioning of America's healthcare system. Students learn how various policies, practices, and politics affect this system.
Health Information Management
This course teaches students about the numerous professional responsibilities of those in health information management positions. Students also learn the industry's ethical and legal standards and the technological and data management skills needed by health information management professionals.
Medical Billing and Reimbursement Methods
This course gives students the skills necessary for conducting the business of health facilities. Students learn to assist healthcare providers by managing patients' financial records, billing, payments, and collections. Learners discover how to monitor cash flow and to read and process insurance payments, claims, and denials.
You can also learn more about medical coder certifications and classes in our guide .
Jobs and Salaries with a Medical Coding Associate Degree Online
Graduates of medical billing and coding programs often work in hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing or residential care facilities, insurance companies, and governmental organizations.
Potential Careers and Salaries
These technicians compile, process, and report patients' medical records, often translating data into a numerical coding system and ensuring that the information meets the healthcare system's range of ethical, regulatory, administrative, legal, and medical requirements.
Median Salary: $45,240
These professionals interact daily with the public, including customers and visitors, providing information about their organization's services and activities. Information clerks often direct people to the appropriate employee, department, or office.
Median Salary: $36,920
Accreditation for a Medical Coding Associate Degree Online Program
Employers of medical coders and billers often prefer job candidates with degrees from accredited schools and programs. Official accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education have verified that these schools and programs meet the highest educational standards.
Career-oriented and occupational schools that offer a medical coding associate degree online are often accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. Many programs at accredited schools also boast programmatic accreditation. Such programs have earned programmatic accreditation from agencies that specialize in the particular standards of the field or discipline.
Online Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Scholarships
Most medical billing and coding scholarships require students to apply online. Allied health professions also award scholarships and some employers help their employees with education expenses. Students can consult their school's website or financial aid office for information regarding available scholarships.
Who Can Apply: The American Health Information Management Association awards merit-based scholarships to students currently enrolled in six or more credits of an academic program where they already have maintained a 3.5 GPA or higher in 24 or more completed credits. Eligible applicants possess an AHIMA membership and have at least six credits remaining in their degree program. AHIMA does not consider any prior winners of this same scholarship toward the same degree.
Who Can Apply: The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professionals awards scholarships to students demonstrating academic excellence and leadership potential in allied health professions. Eligible applicants boast enrollment and successful performance for at least one academic term in an entry-level degree program at an ASAHP member institution. Eligible institutions nominate only one candidate per scholarship cycle. ASAHP awards the preeminent scholarship recipient an additional $1,000, $2,000 total, and the title of Elwood Scholar.
Who Can Apply: Created to help relieve California's healthcare services shortage, the Allied Healthcare Scholarship sponsors recipients who agree to serve 12 months full time at a California healthcare facility in an area qualified by the Health Resources and Services Association as medically underserved or under a healthcare professional shortage. Qualified applicants do not have competing service obligations elsewhere and are enrolled in at least six credits. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher.
Amount: Up to $8,000/year for up to three years.
Who Can Apply: The New York Health Information Management Association awards a merit scholarship to one qualified student per year. Applicants to this Mary M. Zannis scholarship reside or work in New York State, possess both AHIMSA and NYHIMA memberships, and maintain a GPA in a part-time or full-time HIA, HIT, or AHIMA-accredited program in New York State.
Who Can Apply: The New Jersey Health Information Management Association awards scholarships to current students living in New Jersey or attending a health information management program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education in New Jersey. Applicants require AHIMA membership and New Jersey CSA designation, as well as completion of one semester of 12 or more credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA for the most recent semester.
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