Accelerated medical billing and coding programs offer a fast path for individuals to complete a degree to start work in this growing field in the healthcare industry.
Patient health information is critical in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of disease and illness. It’s not only clinical practitioners who rely on accurate and timely medical records, but medical coding and billing are necessary for the appropriate reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and for-profit insurance companies.
Best Health Degrees has researched community and technical colleges offering associate degrees in Medical Billing and Coding. These online programs have accreditation and will help you become a valuable allied healthcare professional.
Our Method: Ranking the 10 Fastest Medical and Billing Coding Associate’s Degrees
To rank the 10 Fastest Medical Billing and Coding Degrees, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential. We used data from IPEDS, Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
Note: Due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, many schools have migrated their traditional classroom programs online. School websites will give you more information on the school’s situation.
1. University of Arkansas Grantham
This AAS in Medical Billing from the University of Arkansas Grantham is 60 credit hours, including general education and core degree credits, in about 24 months.
This program is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). It will give you the training needed to sit for the Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS) credentialing exam of the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
You’ll study topics in medical terminology, health delivery systems, reimbursement methods, diagnostic and procedure coding systems, as well as medical assisting. There’s a course in CBCS exam prep included in the curriculum. General education coursework will cover English, humanities, science, and social sciences.
Grantham offers life experience credit through its Prior Learning Assessment Program (PLA), which could include work experience, continuing education, volunteer involvement, and internships. You’ll want to talk with an admission advisor to see if you have experience that would qualify.
Fast Fact: Grantham has been offering distance education since 1951 and now offers over 50 degrees online
Degree Awarded: online Associate of Applied Science in Medical Coding and Billing
Learn more about this online medical billing and coding degree program at Grantham’s program site!
2. Northwest Technical College
An AAS in Medical Coding from this Minnesota school will take 60 credit hours, or about 24 months. Northwest Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to offer this online associate degree.
This program will provide you with the professional skills to handle medical coding requirements from organization to reporting. You’ll take classes in Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Medical Billing Procedures, CPT/HCPCS Coding, ICD-10 Coding, US Healthcare Systems, Business Communication, and an Internship. Other courses will help round out your understanding of medical billing and coding.
If you’ve attended a postsecondary school before, you may be able to have transfer credits applied to this program. You’ll want to talk to an admission advisor about possible transfer credits.
Fast Fact: Niche ranks NTC as one of its “Best Community Colleges in America”
Degree Awarded: AAS
Learn more at Northwest Tech’s program site about this medical billing and coding degree program!
3. Ozark Technical Community College
Located in Springfield, Missouri, OTCC has an AAS in Health Information and Technology (HIT) that prepares you to sit for the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam. Having that certification will greatly help you in your eventual employment.
You’ll need 66 credit hours to graduate with this degree and Professional Practice Experience. Among the HIT courses are topics in medical coding, health records and records systems, legal concerns in healthcare, medical billing terminology, health information systems, and statistics. The program also requires courses in Technology and Digital Literacy and Computer Apps for Business. These courses are in addition to general education studies.
This online medical billing program is eligible for financial aid for qualified students.
Fast Fact: OTC adjusted online fees as a result of COVID-19
Degree Awarded: AAS
Learn more at Ozark Tech’s program site about this medical billing and coding program!
4. Southwest Tech
A technical diploma may be a great option if you’re looking for a quick way to enter the healthcare field. Southwest Tech offers a diploma in its Medical Coding Specialist program.
This diploma can be obtained in one year and will qualify you to work in a number of healthcare facilities and roles, from outpatient coder to coding and claims analyst. The 33-credit hour curriculum will acquaint you with coding requirements, medical terminology, basic or general anatomy, the foundational basis for health information management, revenue management, and ethics and law in healthcare.
Fast Fact: Southwest Tech has established a Cares Emergency Grant to assist students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
Degree Awarded: Technical Diploma
Learn more at Southwest Tech’s medical billing and coding degree program!
5. Herzing University
You can complete this Associate or Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Coding online within 20 months. Additionally, this curriculum will prepare you to sit for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Some of the required studies in this degree includes patient privacy, ethics, medical terminology, ICD-10 coding, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. You’ll also explore anatomy and physiology, consisting of studies in biochemistry, histology, cellular biology, etc. Additionally, communication, math, science, humanities, and more are required general education classes.
You’ll also participate in a case study research project in coding and insurance billing; or, depending on the state in which you live, an insurance and coding internship.
Fast Fact: Herzing University began as a computer training school in 1965, the first of its kind
Degree Awarded: Associate and AAS
Learn more at Herzing’s program site about this medical billing and coding program!
6. Central Texas College
Central Texas College provides a 60 credit hour AAS in Medical Billing and Coding degree you can complete online in four semesters.
Among the 60 hours of study, you’ll cover topics in medical billing terminology, coding and classification systems, human disease, health data content/structure, software applications, healthcare reimbursement, and more. The required courses in this degree curriculum include English composition, English for business, and speech. You’ll choose from electives in social sciences and humanities.
An internship is also necessary for graduation. You can learn more about the requirement by talking with an admission advisor.
Fast Fact: CTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
Degree Awarded: AAS
Learn more about this medical billing and coding program at Central Texas’ program site!
7. Moraine Park Technical College
You’re able to take the 63 credit hours for this Health Information and Technology AAS degree online. CAHIIM accredits this program, allowing you to sit for the RHIT credentialing exam.
This well-balanced curriculum includes studies in healthcare informatics, ICD and CPT coding, ethics, law, human diseases, quality management, a capstone project, and professional practice experience. You’ll learn from faculty currently working in the health information field and can take the program full-time or part-time.
The school recommends you consider job-shadowing in the healthcare information profession before applying for admission. You may want to discuss with an admission counselor the best way to do that.
Fast Fact: Moraine Park Technical College graduates have a 100% RHIM exam and have surpassed the national pass rate average for over 25 years
Degree Awarded: AAS
Learn more at MPTC’s program site about this medical billing and coding program!
8. Southwest Tech
We included Southwest Tech again in this ranking because of its Health Information and Technology Management AAS degree, developed with the working adult in mind. It requires 61 credit hours and can be completed entirely online (except for a professional experience).
You may also be eligible to receive academic credit for prior learning, including transfer credits and military experience. Be sure to discuss this with an admission representative.
This curriculum was designed to meet CAHIIM accreditation standards and will qualify you to sit for the RHIT credentialing exam. You’ll study ICD and CPT coding, review foundational basis for HIM, become familiar with human diseases, management of resources, health informatics, medical terminology, as well as a capstone project.
Fast Fact: Forbes ranked Southwest Tech #1 in Wisconsin and #13 overall of its 25 two-year trade schools
Degree Awarded: AAS
Learn more at Southwest Tech’s program in medical billing and coding!
9. Arapahoe Community College
This Colorado school has an online Health Information and Technology AAS degree that you can complete in 64 credit hours. Accredited by the CAHIIM, this degree will give you the skills necessary for an entry-level position in the health information field.
You’ll be able to analyze, code, retrieve data, etc., in many healthcare facilities. Studies include coding, data management, information systems, medical billing terminology, and HIT capstone projects. There’s also a practicum experience required. Before the practicum, you’ll need to submit a criminal background check and vaccination records.
In addition to health information courses, you’ll take general education classes in English, psychology, and interpersonal communication.
Fast Fact: Arapahoe Community College opened in 1966 with over 550 students
Degree Awarded: AAS for medical billing and coding
Learn more at ACC’s program site about this medical billing and coding program!
10. Lehigh Carbon Community College
You can earn an AAS degree in Health Information and Technology in only four semesters from this Pennsylvania college.
The curriculum provides the foundation to work as a HIT technician in a range of healthcare sites. You’ll study anatomy and physiology, clinical documentation, health law, classification systems, HIT reporting, medical terminology, and ICD and CPT coding. The program emphasizes electronic health information and trains students to provide accurate and timely health information records and reports.
With a CAHIIM accredited degree, healthcare professionals qualify to sit for the RHIT exam once you graduate. Lehigh Carbon Community College has a 91% first-time exam pass rate.
Fast Fact: CLCC has an enrollment in excess of 10,000 students and is located in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania
Degree Awarded: Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Health Information and Technology
Learn more at LCCC’s program site about this online medical billing and coding degree!
What is a Medical Biller or Medical Coder?
A medical billing specialist works on insurance claims and patient billing. They verify charges and payments and maintain records. Additionally, they interact with an insurance claims specialist to determine patient financial responsibility.
Medical coders evaluate patient data, electronic health records, and care information and assign them universal codes for billing. Both jobs deal with electronic medical records. And medical billing and coding professional certification programs train individuals in these technical careers.
Medical Coding Degree vs Certificate
Most medical coding Certificate programs qualify students for certification exams. Individuals can earn a medical billing and coding certification online fast. It is one of the fastest medical certifications. Certificate programs are usually 15 to 18 credits and prepare students for entry-level employment. They may be a 4month medical billing and coding program or a 6 month medical billing and coding program.
Online medical billing and medical coding diploma programs usually take 10 to 12 months and are 25 to 36 credits. An associate degree program takes two years to complete and is usually 60 to 70 credits.
|4-6 months||certificate||15-18 credits||CBCS|
|10-12 months||diploma||25-36 credits||CCA|
|24 months||associate degree||60-70 credits||CCS|
|4 years||bachelor’s||120 credits||/|
Will a Certification in Medical Billing and Coding Help My Career?
The short answer is yes. Medical coding credentials are a high priority in healthcare. Many employers prefer to hire those who demonstrate training and expertise in coding and billing requirements which certification assures. Completing a certification program may also increase your earning ability.
There are specific certifications for medical billers and medical coders. The American Medical Billing Association (AMBA) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offer certifications. Additionally, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) also offers the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam and the Certified Professional Biller CPB exam. Below are other certifications.
- Certified Professional Biller (CPB™) – Certification Exam
- Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) Certification for medical coding
- Certified ASC Coder (CASCC™) Credential for medical coding
- Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam
- Certified Anesthesia and Pain Management Coder (CANPC®) Credential
- Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC®) – Certification Exam
- Certified Outpatient Coder (COC®) – Certification Exam
- Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC®) – Certification Exam
- Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) exam
Medical Billing and Coding Accreditation
Most schools offering online Medical Billing and Coding programs have accreditation from the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) or the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
Accredited programs will prepare you to sit for credentialing exams of the Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) designation of the American Academy of Professional Coders™ or the Healthcare Information Technology Management (HIM) credential of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
This accreditation demonstrates that the program meets specific standards and can lead you to receive professional credentials. Typically, you receive certification by sitting for the Registered Health Information Technology (RHIT), Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) or Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) exams.
Can You Earn a Fast Medical Billing and Coding Certification Online?
Yes, students can complete a fast medical coding certification online. The proctored exams are typically offered at numerous sites in all states. But, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAPC and AHIMA are now offering the CPC Exam and AHIMA Exam online. In preparation for the exam, you can enroll in a coding course, supplemental courses, and practice exams.
How to Get a Certification in Medical Billing and Coding
It’s possible to earn the medical billers certification without a formal education, but it’s challenging. Your best bet is to obtain a well-rounded technical diploma or associate’s degree in the field. Additionally, an associate degree is great for entry-level positions and is an excellent springboard to a bachelor’s degree, should you want to advance your healthcare career.
As mentioned before, professional associations offer certification by successfully passing exams. You’ll most likely need to join the association before taking the test.
Can You Get a Medical Billing and Coding Certification for Free?
We couldn’t find any CPC or RHIT exams offered at no cost. If you currently work in healthcare, it might be possible that your employer may be willing to pay for the exam. You may want to check with your supervisor or HR department to see if that might be possible.
Depending on your chosen package, the AAPC certification exam for medical billing and coding costs between $399 and $654.95. Packages include the base exam only, online practice exams, study guides, or exam reviews. The AHIMA exam costs $229 for association members and $299 for non-members.
Job Outlook for Medical Billing
Is there a demand for medical billing? The need for qualified credentialed Medical Billing and Coding professionals is expected to grow at 7%, between 2021-2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This job growth is much faster than average. In addition, the median salary expectation for medical billing and coding, per the BLS, is $46,660 annually. Of course, your salary will depend on where you live and work.
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