Do I need a certification for medical billing and coding? Let’s get through it with a question.
Inquiry: I have to earn an online degree in medical billing. Which online course is the most cost-effective option? I have been working in medical billing and coding without a degree for the past seven years, but I’ll only make the kind of money I want with one.
Do you hold coding certifications from the American Association for Professional Coders (AAPC) or the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)? If not, please do so before earning a degree because it will offer you the necessary courses to start your chosen career. You can obtain the certifications you need to make the desired pay through either association.
You can select between two regulatory organizations, depending on the type of medical billing and your coding job path. With a strong focus on facility coding/billing and health information management, AHIMA offers degree programs and certificates. Alternatively, you could select the AAPC, which provides certificate programs with a main emphasis on professional services, inpatient/outpatient/office-based coding, and billing.
CERTIFICATION BY AHIMA
A high school certificate or GED is required to take the exam for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), the entry-level AHIMA credential. Although AHIMA doesn’t need to take this exam, all of these exams would benefit significantly from it. The following, if not all of them, should be included in the fundamental preparation suggested for taking this exam:
- Minimum six months of coding experience on the job
- biology and anatomy
- specialized language
- CPT and ICD-10 codes
Since you wouldn’t be attending a program but taking a certification exam, it would cost $299 for a non-member and $199 for an AHIMA member. The cost of the courses, as mentioned earlier, depending on the length of the system, will range from $1,000 to $3,000 at any AHIMA-approved coding program.
Only the RHIA credential, one of many that AHIMA offers, calls for earning a bachelor’s degree in health information management (HIM).
A candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree from an HIM school that is recognized to even sit for the RHIA exam. A four-year college can cost upwards of $30,000 per year to attend, with most classes being held in a traditional classroom format. RHIA exam registration is $229 for members and $299 for non-members.
AHIMA SCHOLARSHIP ASSISTANCE
AHIMA has a scholarship program that awards $90K in HIM merit scholarships each year to undergraduate students seeking degrees in either health information administration or health information technology if they’re interested in pursuing a four-year degree.
Furthermore, suppose you join AHIMA as a student. In that case, your annual dues are only $35, and you’ll be eligible for any state-level scholarships that your component state association offers. Most colleges and universities can now provide students with federal financial aid funds thanks to the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) legislation.
This helps those students who want to pursue programs that will prepare them for careers in health information management or health informatics. Ask the program or institution you wish to attend about the ARRA funds available for financial aid.
Let’s look at what the AAPC offers regarding its online programs now that AHIMA provides various programs, including degree degrees. Professional certifications of many kinds, including some specialized adjunct certifications, are provided by the AAPC.
CERTIFICATION BY AAPC
The core coding certification, or CPC, is the industry gold standard and comes first. You can choose “bundle” courses, which give significant cost savings, or you can go module by module to earn certification through the AAPC. Suppose you select the “bundle” option. In that case, you will also receive the CPC Preparation Course, which will teach students the fundamental coding techniques needed in the outpatient physician environment and prepare them to take the CPC exam.
The CPC Online Practice Exam Bundle, which consists of three mock tests with 50 questions each and enables the student to assess their preparation before appearing for the exam, is also included in this bundle. Multiple tries at the practice examinations are permitted for up to a year after the date of purchase for each student who purchases this bundle.
Finally, students are permitted to take the 150-question CPC Exam, which assesses their understanding of the courses and the bundled materials they have learned. Depending on their work experience level before the exam, students who pass the exam will either earn CPC-A or CPC status one year after the purchase date. The CPC exam is given by around 82% of students who buy and finish this bundle, with roughly 90% passing on their first attempt.
The CPC Preparation Course costs $1,995 for members and $2,495 for non-members, with a payment plan available. It is intended to be completed in four months or fewer.
If you decide to purchase the modules separately, you won’t be able to benefit from all of the cost savings that the bundled package gives, but if you join the AAPC, you will be able to save some money. Depending on the modules you select, going module by module will cost you, on average, $2,800.
Please click on the AAPC link to compare the incomes of certified billing and coding professionals to those of non-certified professionals. The AAPC page will show that an accredited coder earns roughly 17% more than a non-credentialed coder.
AHIMA and the AAPC are well-known on a national and international level, making a career in either organization—or both—a wise decision. It’s crucial to remember that students who pursue associate or bachelor’s degrees typically earn higher earnings throughout their careers than those who merely receive a certification. If your abilities and lifestyle permit it, pursuing a degree is always a wise decision, and investing in your future is always worthwhile.
Remember that there are several ways to pay for education, and those who qualify can receive financial aid. On several websites, you can find an excellent tool for students to compare schools and costs for online degree programs in medical billing and coding.