Obtaining a medical billing and coding certification is beneficial in the long run if you want to establish your career in healthcare. Since paperwork is the backbone of every healthcare system, medical coders must administer data and patient records to create insurance claims.
What Are the Top Medical Billing and Coding Programs?
Taking a medical billing and coding class online allows you to navigate the decision-making and research process according to your time. In most cases, an online program is preferable for students with a busy schedule. Since online programs offer more flexibility than traditional, on-site courses, students can log into their courses anytime.
Online medical billing and coding programs give you more freedom in choosing the program delivery, curriculum, and tuition fees than on-campus programs. Listed below are some of the top online medical coding programs.
1. American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
Online medical billing and coding courses at AAPC are best for those without prior knowledge of medical coding. Founded in 1928 as a quarterly magazine for medical coding industry professionals, AAPC has grown into one of the most renowned billing professional membership organizations that cater to coding beginners.
Some of the most popular programs among medical billing and coding aspirants are the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Professional Biller (CPB) courses. Numerous other customizations for the course include online practice exams and free code books that are usually grouped in packages and cost extra.
Here’s what you will learn in the program:
Acquire requisite skills for using three medical code sets- ICD-10-CM, CPT, and HCPCS Level II
Understand cumulative health plans and reimbursement methodologies
Comprehend the intricate process of physician-based insurance claims
Analyzing medical reports and other regulatory considerations in healthcare reimbursement and collections
Course Length: The course length for the online course will depend on the type of learning mode. Self-paced learning will take around four to eight months. The instructor-led course will span over 16 weeks from start to completion.
Program Structure: The online course will be divided into learning modules with successive tests at the end to assess students’ progress. Along with reading assignments, AAPC also provides audio lectures and critical-thinking exercises.
80% higher pass rate than other medical coding programs
Students with an AAPC membership can save at least $125 for the CPC course
Extra $349 for certification exam
2. American Health Information Management Association
AHIMA is another accreditation organization that prepares potential students for certification exams. Their professional courses allow you to choose a learning mode tailored to your goals. AHIMA offers excellent courses that cover all facets of medical records management, documentation improvement, and privacy and security.
In AHIMA’s Medical Coding and Reimbursement program, you will learn the following:
Understand the three mode sets
Learn medical coding guidelines
AHIMA’s standards of ethical coding
Documentation on code assignment
Course Length: Self-paced course which lasts 365 days from the date of purchase.
Program Structure: It consists of a 13-course program, and you receive a certificate of completion after completion.
AHIMA credential is prestigious in the medical industry
Offers self-paced learning programs
The entire bundle is $2993.25; however, you can choose a single course which costs around $299.
The extra cost of $299 for certification exams
3. Penn Foster Career School
The Online Medical Billing and Coding Career Diploma Program by Penn Foster will prepare you for certificate programs offered by the National Healthcareer Association, AAPC, and AHIMA. With Penn Coster, you can learn at whatever pace is best for most learners. You will need to dedicate a few hours to the coursework.
Some things you will learn in the online program:
Apply the three coding guidelines to identify diagnoses and patient medical records
Interpret medical information to make proper coding decisions
Learn the process for patient record reimbursement
Acquire computer and information literacy skills
Course Length: Average completion time for the course is 15 months.
Program Structure: To complete the program, you need to do 11 courses under the Online Medical Billing and Coding Program
The cost of the certification exam is included in the program
The affordable price of $899 along with two monthly EMI plans
No additional guidance from professionals
4. Drexel University
The Medical Billing and Medical Coding program offered by Drexel University is designed to prepare you for national certifications. Although students are prepared to take national certification exams, they also continue to take more advanced courses at Drexel University. After completing the medical billing and coding program at Drexel University, students can even opt for a bachelor’s degree.
Some key learnings of this program:
Understand the main coding manuals- ICD-10-CM, CPT and HCPCS and ICD-10-PCS
Get familiar with medical terminology, anatomy, software, and medical billing
Analyze physical and hospital-based medical coding
Course Length- One year
Program Structure: Compared to the traditional two-semester system, Drexel university offers a program divided into four 10-week quarters per year.
Flexible 10-course program
Eligible for financial aid
Additional exam fee for certification exam
5. University of Cincinnati
The online medical billing and coding program offered by the University of Cincinnati is a fully online and accredited program. Students can continue to earn an Associate Degree through the Associate Degree Transfer Program.
Since medical coders ensure that insurance companies are updated with accurate medical codes, this program will offer advanced medical coding using ICD and CPT coding principles
Learn the basics of medical terminology
Understand health information ethics
Overview of basic anatomy and physiology
Course Length: Students can complete the program in less than 12 months with full-time enrollment.
Program Structure: Since the program takes place online without needing on-campus visits, students can choose six starting dates during the year. Classes usually last seven to fourteen weeks and are completely asynchronous.
Full-time and part-time programs
Students who complete the program can transfer their credits to an Associate’s degree
Graduates are 29% more likely to pass the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam
Expensive tuition fees which start at $3,189 per semester
No self-paced learning
6. Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
The remote medical coding certification program offered by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is a fully online and accredited program that combines classroom instruction with the technical experience of a healthcare system. If you have a busy schedule, the medical billing and coding program offered by Indiana university is perfect for you.
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education are two accrediting bodies for the certification exam. Students will learn the following in this course:
Correctly use medical codes for medical procedures and diagnostic coding
Recognized medical terms and communicate effectively in a healthcare environment
Uphold ethical billing practices
Obtain reimbursement for healthcare services from insurance companies
Course Length: The program is completely online, and students can obtain their coding certificate after completing 28 credit hours of the medical billing and coding program.
Program Structure: You will receive a certificate upon completing the 28-credit hours course. Note that if you do not have prior credit for the course, you will have to complete additional 12 credits of coursework before starting the course.
A fully online program that is available in an asynchronous program
The credits earned during this course can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management, also offered at IUPUI
No self-paced path
At $295 per credit hour, the total amount for the course can become a bit pricey
Requires prior credit before starting the course.
How Will You Choose a Program
To become a Certified Professional Coder, you’ll need to take the medical billing and coding program. When choosing an online program, there are several factors to consider. The best medical billing and coding school for you depends on your preference.
Hybrid/Fully Online Course
While some online courses are conducted in the asynchronous mode, others follow a hybrid/blended model. When signing up for a medical billing and coding course, ensure that the information aligns with your personal preferences.
Some healthcare providers sign up for completely online courses to gain additional knowledge while working on their job. Hybrid classes are usually conducted on campus at least 50% of the time, and the remainder is online. Students who are selecting an out-of-state program that is geographically distant from their home will be unable to fulfill the hybrid course requirements.
However, if you find on-site learning more effective–especially for certain lab, nursing, and teaching courses but do not want to do the entire course offline, the hybrid mode will work seamlessly for you.
Students enrolled in online programs usually look for flexibility in classes and coursework requirements. Although some programs offer online medical billing and coding schools with self-paced learning, most offer one-on-one sessions with instructors and dedicated tests to record your progress.
Make sure that your learning style aligns with the course structure. While some students prefer coaching sessions with trained professionals, others prefer an asynchronous mode that allows them to work at their own pace.
Cost and Financial Aid
A particular medical billing and coding school's overall cost dictates most students' final verdict. Most online courses are around $1000-$3000, and some exclude the certification exam cost.
There are online courses that offer financial aid for distinguished students. This will, however, depend on the university and its specific requirements to meet the criteria.
Before enrolling in an online medical billing program, check the institution's accreditation status. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers prefer candidates that have a professional certification.
After completing the online program, you can obtain certification by sitting for an online or in-person proctored exam. To earn the Certified Professional Coder credential by AAPC, you’ll need to answer 100 multiple-choice questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Teach Myself Medical Billing and Coding
Self-taught medical coding is only possible if you already have a medical field background and prerequisite medical terminology knowledge.
If you’re someone who does not have any experience in the medical field, it can be difficult to understand coding books without guidance.
Is Medical Billing and Coding Hard to Earn Online?
Medical billing and coding can be challenging, especially if you’re from a non-medical background. Most online programs offer a rundown of various courses along with practice tests, possible questions, and coaching sessions.
Like many healthcare careers, getting a medical billing and coding credential will require hard work and dedication. With education and hands-on training modules, you can practically implement your learnings in your job.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Coding and Billing?
You will complete a course in less than a year, depending on the online program structure. If you’re following a semester-based program, it can take more than a year–more or less 15 months. Students looking for self-learning can avail this program.
Other online courses follow the course structure, which can be completed within a year. However, this will limit your flexibility, and you will need to meet coursework deadlines.
Program outcomes may vary depending on each institution's specific curriculum and employment opportunities are not guranteed.