How to Find the Best Medical Billing Schools
The medical billing craze, if can be so named, has spawned not only a plethora of medical billing services of all shapes and sizes, but also a large variety of medical billing schools that offer instruction in how to become a medical biller, coder, or both.
You need some criteria for selecting the right school. The following are some things you should consider if you are planning to get educated as a medical biller.
First, please recognize that there are many options when it come to studying to become a medical biller and/or coder. You actually don’t even need to attend any medical billing schools to become qualified, although most employers expect some sort of official education. Obviously, the amount of schooling you obtain will result in a corresponding degree and levels of certification. So the first thing you need to consider is what level of education you’re going for.
Best Medical Billing Schools: Your Options
Option 1 – Self education. You don’t legally need anything more than a high school diploma to be a medical biller. So if you feel that going to a medical billing school of some sort just isn’t an option for financial or other reasons, there’s always the option to simply learn the trade on your own.
Some sort of formal education is a good idea, however. Potential employers are impressed by formal training, plus, it will give you an edge over competitors applying for the same job who are not educated. So while it’s not always possible, we recommend attending any of the many accredit medical billing schools.
Search book sites for some good guides and reference materials and study them well. If you really know your stuff it will show. In addition, some guides/courses in medical billing and information technology offer certification exams through the publisher, so that can add some extra credence to your level of home-made academic achievement.
The subsequent options are actual academic programs at various medical billing schools. A useful guide to the general industry wide acceptability and accreditation of these programs is whether or not they are recognized by three professional organizations: The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), and the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM).
There organizations are a great place to start your medical billing school search. They offer all kinds of educational programs of their own as well as lists of colleges and online programs accredited by them. They oversee the industry standards for education in the field, so if you use them as your starting point you can be relatively sure you’ll be dealing with complete and reputable institutions.
Another very good resource is the All Allied Health Schools website. This is a large listing of accredited medical billing schools across the country in the all the allied health fields, but it includes medical billing schools as a subset.
The links to these organizations/resources can be found at the bottom of this article.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t consider any schools outside of these organizations’ lists and recommendation, but if you do, make sure you research them before signing up.
Option 2 – Diploma programs obtained from a local medical billing schools This is usually the shortest kind of medical billing academic program and the one with the least commitment involved. It usually takes around nine months to complete and can be found at a community colleges, career schools, and online. It is also usually the cheapest, often costing only a few hundred dollars. Check the sites of the organizations above and see if they list any member schools in your area. If not, then you may have to go outside these networks. State universities and community colleges are usually reputable and often offer these types of courses, so look for public educational institutions in your area.
Option 3 – Associates degree programa obtained from a local medical billing schools These are usually 2 year programs and go into the field of medical billing more thoroughly, often including at least coding as well in the program. These will stand you in good stead, giving you a thorough background in everything you’ll need to know to be a medical biller, coder, or both at once. Of course, you’ll invest more time and money than you would for a diploma program. It will depend on the school how much exactly, but often it will be several thousand dollars. If the cost seems prohibitive, keep in mind that there are often financial aid programs ranging from loans to grants and scholarships available.
Option 4 – Bachelor of Arts programs. These types of programs are offered at standard four year colleges (they generally last 4 years in duration) and are a thorough education in the entire health information and management field as a whole. Often these programs will not only qualify you to do billing, coding, and transcription, but to run a large company that offers these and other medical administration services. Consider B.A. programs if you’re really serious about going into the field in a managerial and comprehensive sense.
There are even graduate programs in the field, but this is nothing you would start out considering anyway so there’s no need to go into them here. If you’re going to go that deeply into the subject, that will become clear after you’ve begun with more fundamental level programs.
Option 5 – Any and all of the above, but online. There are tons of online programs in the field. In fact this is where you should exercise special caution, because of the possibility of scams. Again, check the above professional organizations and if possible, make sure the schools you’re looking into are accredited medical billing schools. In addition do ordinary background research. Check review sites where former students may post their experiences. Make sure also that the schools the cover a wide variety of topics – essentially the main areas of billing and coding, and if possible transcription. Geography is not a factor when investigating online schools so make sure their other credentials are good. Often online schools are less expensive than in-class instruction, but you need to make sure you’re getting a good, thorough education with them.
Note: There’s a flip side to the question of what the programs offer. If you’re only trying to do billing or coding, there’s no need to pay for a whole bunch of extras if time and cost are a big factor. So something to look for in a case like this is a school that will offer a number of options concerning what material is covered.
In general, beware of medical billing schools that offer education that seems to easy and quick to be true, or promise to have you up and running with a medical billing business and all the know-how in no time flat for a few hundred dollars, etc. There are definitely scams of various sorts in this field. They are easy to avoid by following the advice in this article and simple common sense.
With so many programs to choose from, finding good a good medical billing school is not difficult. But you do still need to use good judegment and do your due diligence before committing to anything. A good medical billing school is worth a lot long term and will give you a good start in this lucrative career path.