As the Baby Boomer population ages and requires more medical care, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other health care facilities need as much support behind the scenes as possible.
Key members of this staff are the medical billers and coders, who create “accurate patient records to avoid billing errors and provide a record of treatment for future evaluation,” according to Drexel University. Medical coders take the report of a patient’s visit and determine what medical codes apply to the services that were provided. The medical biller then produces a claim (bill) to submit to an insurance company and to determine how much to charge the patient for the service, according to MedicalBillingAndCoding.org.
As health care providers shifted to using electronic health records in recent years, medical billers and coders found themselves in more demand.
Jobs in the field are estimated to increase by 11% by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a greater increase than most professions. Many employers also have started paying their billers and coders more than the average salary, with the top 10% of these workers in the United States earning an average annual salary of $64,000.
Here’s a closer look at 10 of the best online medical billing and coding schools in the United States.
CUNY School of Professional Studies (New York, NY)
The City College of New York offers a new, entirely online Certified Medical Billing and Coding Specialist program through its Continuing and Professional Studies division. The synchronous course is available through two software programs, Moodle.org and Zoom. It takes 170 hours to complete and is split into two parts, which students can take in any order.
While students don’t need any specific prerequisites to enter the program, the college recommends that they at least have some knowledge of medical terminology. The program includes a mix of live online lessons (taught by instructors with 10-plus years of teaching experience), written assignments, and exams.
Modules include medical terminology, the basics of medical insurance, and cloud-based computerized billing. Students must complete both parts of the program to be able to take the National HealthCareer Association exam.
Purdue University Global (West Lafayette, IN)
Purdue University Global’s Medical Billing and Coding Certificate Program takes 10 weeks to complete and includes a hands-on practicum at a health care facility.
The 44-credit program includes lessons in subjects such as reimbursement methodologies and pharmacology, which prepare students for an entry-level job in the health care field. Students also complete virtual labs.
As students wrap up their studies, they get some real-life experience through a 40-hour practicum at a facility of the student’s choice. Students take a virtually proctored certification exam with the American Medical Certification Association, but they also gain valuable knowledge to help them potentially earn additional certifications.
New terms usually start every month, so students can start their lessons when best for them. The program also is certified by the AHIMA Professional Certificate Approval Program.
Weber State University (Ogden, UT)
In just 30 weeks, students at Weber State University can earn an undergraduate certificate in health care coding and classification.
Students must take three prerequisites (Medical Terminology, Integrated Human Anatomy, and Physiology I, and Human Anatomy) before moving on to the nine remaining required courses.
Through lessons in subjects such as diagnosis coding and human physiology, students get ready to take the American Health Information Management Association’s Certified Coding Associate (CCA) certification exam. Students also learn how to use different classifications of diseases, procedural terminology, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Procedural Coding System.
To graduate, students must complete 27 credit hours with a “C” grade or higher. Required courses include a one-credit practicum to gain some experience in the field via a simulated health care setting.
Keiser University (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Keiser University goes beyond the basics with its medical billing and coding program, which it offers as an associate degree.
The 60-credit program prepares students for entry-level jobs in the field through development of various administrative and clerical skills. Students can take courses online, in person, and in a hybrid setup.
Students learn not only how to use medical terminology and coding classifications, but also how to manage insurance claims, compliance and reimbursement. Lessons fall not only under billing and coding but also science, mathematics, computers, and even the arts and humanities, giving Keiser students a well-rounded education. They also completed a four-credit coding cases practice experience.
Upon finishing their lessons, students should be ready to sit for the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) credentialing exam as an apprentice.
Keiser makes earning the degree easy, too, offering it in person at 15 campuses across Florida as well as online.
Dakota State University (Madison, SD)
Students can earn a health care coding certificate from Dakota State University from the comfort of their home.
In Dakota’s online program, students can set their own schedules and access assignments, lecture notes, and exams through the university’s online course management system, Desire2Learn (D2L).
For the health care coding program, students take classes in biology and human anatomy, in addition to learning how to manage health information.
Using International Classifications of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code sets, students learn the backbones of billing and coding but also more advanced skills, such as performing qualitative and quantitative analyses of health records and abstracting data.
The certificate program prepares students to sit for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Certified Coding Associate exam once they graduate.
University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)
Flexibility is a big draw for the University of Cincinnati’s medical billing and coding certificate program.
Taking place entirely online, the program is available to full- and part-time students who can choose from six starting dates during the year. Classes last either seven or 14 weeks, and because the lessons are asynchronous, students can finish their coursework at any time of day, any day of the week.
The program readies them to sit for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exams, and eligible students can be reimbursed for their exams fees through the university’s Professional-Technical Certification Reimbursement Program.
Students don’t have to stop their studies once they earn their certificate, either. Through the university’s Associate Degree Transfer Program, medical billing and coding graduates can transfer all of their credits to its health information systems associate degree program, which also takes place online.
Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
Students in Drexel University’s medical billing and coding program can put their studies toward earning a bachelor’s degree.
Drexel touts its completely online program as “one of the most in-depth of its kind in the country,” with its students learning about software and terminology as well as the science behind health care. Lessons focus on principles related to four major coding manuals, and students can take them on their own schedules.
Students will be prepared to take various national certification exams, but they also can continue on to more advanced studies at Drexel. Graduates can take the 30 credits of free electives they earned in the certificate program and apply them to Drexel’s bachelor’s degree program in health services administration. That program also is based online.
Florida A&M University (Tallahassee, FL)
Students can earn their Medical Coding Certificate after taking just nine courses at Florida A&M University.
The online program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management. It prepares students to not only complete various coding and billing tasks but also understand the legal and ethical components of health information management and the relationship between billing/coding and patient reimbursements.
FAMU presents the program in three modules, and students have 15 weeks to finish each module, which they can do at their own pace.
Students should have completed one prerequisite course in human anatomy and physiology before starting the first module of the coding program. Those who have not can take the course as a co-requisite at FAMU. In certain cases, students also can get credit for courses taken in high school or college or for professional work experience.
Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)
Rutgers University students complete this 21-credit online program over five semesters.
Students need to have earned a “C” grade or better in the courses Anatomy and Physiology I & II before they begin the program. From there, courses focus on the essentials students will need to pass their coding certification exams and prepare them to work in a variety of health care settings.
Studying several coding and reimbursement systems, they obtain skills not only in coding but also in evaluating documents and reimbursements and analyzing information.
While the program sets up students to find work in the health care field, it also puts them on the path toward an undergraduate degree. Since all the courses in the certificate program count toward Rutgers’ bachelor’s degree in health information management, many students go on to pursue that degree.
Students already pursuing that bachelor’s degree can obtain the certification during their studies.
Indiana University-Purdue University (Indianapolis, IN)
The online medical coding certificate takes just 28 credits hours to complete at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
Students need to take prerequisites in anatomy and physiology for health care management, computer concepts, and medical terminology. After that, students complete two semesters of required courses in subjects such as health care information standards and reimbursement systems through the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.
According to the university, the classes help students learn how “to understand medical terminology, private payer policies, and government regulations.”
Once they earn the certificate, graduates can enter the workforce but also choose to continue on at IUPUI, since the courses in the certificate count toward the university’s bachelor’s degree in health information management. Graduates also will be able to pursue the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)’s Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential.