Medical billing and coding certification are necessary to prepare students as healthcare business professionals and provide doors to a number of employment prospects in the healthcare industry.
Medical coding and billing are both critical components of the healthcare revenue cycle. Medical coders locate billable information in the clinical record and convert it into standardized codes. Medical billers use these codes to bill patients and prepare medical claims to submit to insurance companies. Continue reading to find out how to become certified in medical billing and coding.
Methods to get Medical Billing and Coding Certification
Method 1: Getting Your Education Before Certification
1. Understand the educational prerequisites for your desired job
Speak with someone in human resources about the criteria they use to hire medical billing and coding specialists if you are already clear on the sort of healthcare setting you to want to work in. The best way to begin considering your educational goals and potential certification needs is through this process.
2. Complete high school.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required for all medical billing and coding certifications. As a first step towards certification, complete high school, acquire a GED, or obtain a high school diploma equivalent.
3. Consider beginning with a diploma program
Consider enrolling in a billing and coding diploma program if you have finished high school. The most fundamental medical and billing training is provided during this, which usually lasts 6–9 months. It may be studied in medical billing schools, community colleges, professional schools, or even online, and it is quite cheap (usually costs a few hundred dollars).
4. Earn your Associate’s Degree
In comparison to a diploma program, a 2-year associate’s degree offers more in-depth training and can help you get started on the path to a 4-year degree. It can cost thousands of dollars, but many community colleges are likely to provide it at a reasonable price. Many corporations and professional organizations like AHIMA set this degree of education as a minimum requirement for applicants.
5. Think about getting a bachelor’s degree
Another, more thorough path to a position in medical billing and coding is a Bachelor of Arts in Health Information and Management. The course lasts for four years.
6. Select the best school for you
You can attend whatever school you like, as long as it offers a reputable program. Speak with students from different programs to get feedback and suggestions. Inquire about particular suggestions from employers in your industry. Find out what is needed to apply, how much it costs, what the pass rate is for certification exams, and what resources are offered to help with job searches after school.
Method 2: Choosing Which Certification to Pursue
1. Complete a program recognized by a significant organization
No matter what level of education you select, completing a program that has been approved by a reputable organization will guarantee quality and ensure that employers will take notice of your work.
· The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) are the two most significant and well-known organizations.
2. Pass your examination
You will be able to pick between AHIMA and AAPC certification examinations. Whichever organization’s test you take will also provide you with professional membership. The precise test you take will be determined by the credential you seek.
· If you enroll in a reputable program and have the necessary work experience, you will probably rock your exam. Both AHIMA and AAPC provide internet-based study facilities.
3. Become an AHIMA Certified Coder
You can choose from one of three Certified Coding levels if you decide to seek certification and take the AHIMA exam. You must first sign up for AHIMA in order to be qualified for any of them.
· You need to pass an exam and have a high school graduation to become a Certified Coding Assistant (CCA). Following the completion of an accredited certification program, 6 months of work experience is normally required in order to pass the test.
· A more popular alternative is to earn a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) designation. You normally require three years of work experience, in addition to further training in pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, to pass the exam.
· If you wish to work in a clinic that offers a variety of services, a group practice, a specialized area, or a physician’s office, you should take the Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P) exam.
4. Obtain AAPC certification.
The main professional association for those who work in medical billing and coding is the American Academy of Professional Coders. Being an AAPC member, paying the exam cost, and passing the necessary test are requirements for certification. You will get an Apprentice Certification and the prefix “-A” after your name if you pass the exam. You will drop the ‘-A’ and become a full professional after two years of work experience in the pertinent industry.
· A CPC is the industry standard. After two years of employment, two letters of recommendation confirming your fluency with CPT, ICD, and HCPCS codes, or confirmation of 80 hours of coding study, this will be your title.
· CPC-H is an abbreviation for Certified Professional Coder-Hospital. This is an excellent option if you want to work in a clinic, hospital, or outpatient setting.
· You can sit for the exam to become a Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P) if you have more understanding of insurance payment systems, including Private, Medicare, Medicaid, and self-pay by patients.
5. Consider specializing with the AAPC
The AAPC offers more than 20 different specialization options, from pediatrics to dermatology. This enables you to have a foundational understanding of billing and coding before specializing in a field of interest. Every specialization has a unique test. The AAPC website lists all of the choices.
· One of the highest-paying specializations is Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coder (CIRCC) work.
Method 3: Maintaining Your Certification
1. Complete AAPC-approved education every two years
If you obtained your certification from the AAPC, your job is not finished once you pass your test. Every two years, you must finish 36 hours of continuing education (CE) in order to maintain your certification.
· There are several options for continuing education, including workshops, seminars, and online courses. This guarantees that your knowledge is current.
2. Complete 20 hours of AHIMA-required CE twice a year
For people who have obtained certification through AHIMA tests, further continuing education requirements include attending training sessions, seminars, conventions, and other events. Every two years, you must complete 20 hours of CE requirements.
3. Be aware of your other needs
Some coding certificates require you to complete self-assessment projects and continuing education hours to maintain your certification. Make sure you are aware of the requirements for maintaining the validity of your specialty, CCS, CCA, and CCS-P certificates since they may differ significantly from those for general certifications.
If you live outside the US and are interested in a medical billing and coding position, seek advice from others in your local community who have previously undergone the process.