The 6 Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Classes of 2020

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In this changing landscape, high-paying jobs where people can work from home are ever more desirable.

Medical billing and coding classes help you "identify diagnoses, medical tests, treatments, and procedures found in clinical documentation" and teach you to convert this data into codes "to bill government and commercial payers for physician reimbursement."

Medical coding and billing offers a lot of advantages. The pay is higher than average, and you don't need an expensive and time-consuming college education.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that between 2019 and 2029, job growth in the industry would increase by 8%, double the 4% average for all jobs. The median annual pay for this position was about $42,000 in 2019. 

Medical coding is ranked third on the U.S. News and World Report list of Best Jobs Without A College Degree, but that does not mean that education isn't necessary. The more skills you have, the higher salary you can command.

Many state colleges offer medical billing and coding courses online, and there are advantages to taking college courses.

Depending on the school and other considerations, financial aid including grants, scholarships, and federal loans is available. When you take courses at an accredited college, earned credits are transferable and count toward a degree.

Medical Billing and Coding Class
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The 6 Best Medical Billing and Coding Classes of 2020

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

Founded in 1928, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is an accreditation organization that sets the standards for medical recording. The organization has 52 state associations and more than 103,000 members.

AHIMA offers 8 certifications in medical records management, professional and facility coding, documentation improvement, and privacy and security. The certification programs focus on inpatient and outpatient coding, which are better suited to hospitals and inpatient facilities.

Health professionals with AHIMA’s higher-level certifications—the Registered Health Information Administrator Exam (RHIA) and Registered Health Information Technician Exam (RHIT)—make considerably more money than those with lesser certifications. Higher-level certifications require extensive experience before signing up for courses, which cost around $299 each.

Best Budget: Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson Community College

Founded in 1928, Hutchinson Community College is located in Hutchinson, Kansas, where students interested in pursuing a career in medical coding and billing can earn a Healthcare Coding Specialist Certificate. The online program consists of 45 credit hours and can be completed in just three semesters.

For students who want to further advance their education, most credits earned in this program are applicable to the Health Information Management Associate in Applied Science degree.

The only prerequisite to enrolling in the program is previous academic performance as a high school graduate with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale for the final six semesters of high school, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale for a minimum of 12 semester hours of college, or a minimum GED average standard score of 58.

Tuition at Hutchinson Community College is affordable, even for out-of-state students. In-state students pay about $116 per credit hour and out-of-state students pay around $147 per credit hour, making the total cost for tuition roughly $5,220 or $6,615 for the certification in state, respectively.

Best Variety: American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

In existence since 1990, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) has earned a good reputation online with graduate students. It offers a wide range of classes at very reasonable prices, and its website offers an extensive knowledge base with a wide range of resources to help students succeed. AAPC is the world's largest healthcare training and credentialing organization, with 190,000 members.

AAPC offers a huge variety of certification courses at various price points. Students can engage in any level of learning, from simply taking the certification test to enrolling in a full course load of different specialties.

One note of caution: Job seekers who take the lowest certification routes report that jobs are difficult to find without experience. Cheap certification is attractive, but far less valuable in the job market.

Additional benefits of learning through AAPC include networking, mentorship, and online apprenticeship to provide practical experience. AAPC certification programs focus on physician and outpatient coding and are better suited to doctor’s offices, clinics, and other outpatient settings.

Best Self-Paced: Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, better known as Florida A&M or FAMU, is a public university in the state's capital of Tallahassee. The medical coding program is offered through the university's Office of Continuing Education and provides accreditation only online. The asynchronous format enables students to complete the coursework on their own timetable.

The school recommends following a pace of three modules, each of which consists of three courses. Each one should last no more than 15 weeks in total. After completing the program, students will receive a Medical Coding Certificate of Completion.

They may choose to sit for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), Certified Coding Associate (CCA), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), or Certified Professional Coder (CPC) national certification exams.

The total registration fee for all three modules is roughly $2,000. It’s also possible to register for individual modules, though this approach increases the total cost.

Best for Structure: University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati, also known as UC, is part of the University System of Ohio. As with FAMU, it's a fully remote asynchronous program, but UC’s program is not self-paced.

Students can earn the certificate in as little as 12 months with full-time enrollment. Upon completion of the program, students can sit for the CCA or CPC national certifications, or they may choose to transition to the Associate Degree Program in Health Information Systems.

Unlike some college programs, the only necessary prerequisite for UC’s medical billing and coding program is a high school diploma or equivalent. UC course graduates are 29% more likely to pass the RHIA exam than average.

Ohio residents can expect to pay a total tuition cost of about $6,144 per semester with full-time enrollment. Non-resident full-time students will pay around $6,324. Resident students enrolled part-time will pay roughly $512 per credit hour, while part-time, non-resident students will see a cost of approximately $527 per credit hour.

Best for Professional Development: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

This institution is part of both the Purdue University system and the Indiana University system. It offers a remote medical coding certification program through Indiana University’s School of Information and Computing. It is a fully online program in an asynchronous format that offers 28 credit hours. Upon completion of the certificate program, students will be eligible to sit for the CCA exam.

The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Undergraduate Certificate in Medical Coding program has several prerequisites. Before you can sign up for the course, you must have completed Physiology for Health Care Management, Anatomy for Health Care Management, Computer Concepts for Health Information, and Medical Terminology.

Credits earned through this program are eligible to be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management, also offered at IUPUI.

Though costs will vary depending on residency and other factors, expect to pay around $295 per credit hour in tuition. Out-of-state tuition is considerably higher.

How We Chose the Best Medical Billing and Coding Classes

To determine the best medical billing coding classes, we considered student reviews and if most graduates are satisfied with their education and experience, as well as the courses offered (whether you can get a full-spectrum education, only certification test preparation, or both). We also looked at cost for in-state and out-of-state tuition, as well as accreditation. Further, it was important to consider whether a program offered networking and mentoring opportunities.

What Is a Medical Billing and Coding Class?

Medical billing and coding is a specialized field of data entry. After a patient visits the doctor or hospital, the medical coder's job is to take written or typed information from patient records and translate the information into numeric and alphanumeric codes. These highly specific codes are entered into the medical facility's billing software to send to insurance companies and generate payment records and patient bills.

Medical billing and coding classes familiarize students with the process, the language, medical procedure codes, HIPAA compliance, and other skills they will need to make accurate records.

Who Should Take a Medical Billing and Coding Class?

Detail-oriented people with good focus and keyboard skills can excel at this job. Many medical billing coders work from home, so it's a great opportunity for parents and people with health restrictions that preclude commutes or outside work, and for people who live in rural areas.

The education and experience requirements for medical billing and coding jobs vary. Some companies prefer a year or two of related experience and others require education and/or certification.

How Much Do Medical Billing and Coding Classes Cost?

The cost of medical billing and coding classes varies widely, depending on the type of education you choose. With a technical school, you may be able to prepare for certification in well under a year and at a lower cost.

The average cost for an online medical billing and coding associate's degree from an accredited college is around $15,000 for a two-year program. Less expensive options come in as little as $5,000, with high-end schools costing about $25,000.

The pricing structure is different between schools, with some charging per credit hour and others charging a flat fee for the entire course. In addition, schools may have different pricing based on local residency.

Which Professions Can Medical Billing and Coding Classes Be Useful For?

Every type of human medical facility needs medical billing and coding specialists: doctor's offices, hospitals, clinics, diagnostic testing laboratories, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Article Sources
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  1. AAPC. What is medical billing and coding?

  2. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Medical records and health information technicians. Updated September 1, 2020.

  3. U.S. News & World Report. Best jobs without a college degree.

  4. University of Cincinnati Online. Bachelor of science in health information management.

  5. U.S. News & World Report. Online medical billing and coding associate degree.