General Criteria for Choosing Medical Billing and Coding Courses and Where to Find the Listings

If you’re going to find the best medical billing and coding courses, you’ll need a broad overview of all the options available. Don’t just jump at the first medical billing and coding program that catches your eye. There are a number of factors to consider before you commit to an educational program. Your best bet is to use these criteria and any other criteria you find relevant and make a methodical search.

It’s important to note that that the two main options are in class courses (i.e. at an actual community college, career school, university, etc) and online ones. First you need to decide which is the better option for you.

Consider classroom instruction if you relate better with in person instruction, have enough time to attend courses (this route tends to be more time intensive), and either have the budget for it or think you can get substantial financial aid. Classroom courses are usually both a bit more expensive as well as more time intensive than online instruction.

Consider online courses if you have a busy schedule and/or are seeking to get instruction more inexpensively. Often online courses can be done at your own pace, and there is also the obvious time you’ll save going to and from a college or learning center to take in class courses. And there tend to be a wider variety of cost ranges with online courses – ranging from extremely inexpensive to about the same as the traditional classroom type.

Many of the criteria for selecting good medical billing and coding course are the same regardless of whether you’re going to a physical college or doing it online, but some don’t overlap.

Location

Obviously this is only a factor with classroom courses. Not to belabor the obvious, but you need to find a school that works for you transportation wise. You’re going to be commuting to most probably several times a week. So pick a course that is close to your area, or that you’re willing to relocate to.

Duration

This is much more variable with online courses than with classroom courses. The usual classroom diploma/certification medical billing and coding courses last around nine months. Associates degree courses usually last 2 years and B.A. courses last 4 years. Online they can range from a few weeks to months. Also many of these courses allow you to work at your own pace, so time isn’t even a factor the way it is with classroom courses.

Cost

Costs vary depending firstly one what kind of degree or certification you’re going for. Often basic in class diploma programs cost between $400 and $1000. As you move to higher degree levels such as associates and bachelor’s degrees, it’s best to think in terms of how many credits are involved and the cost per credit. An associate’s degree usually requires around 60 credit hours and the per credit costs can range from as low as $30 or $40 to as high $500 for a prestigious university. That’s comes to between $2100 and $30,000 for an associates, but keep in mind that’s often before books and other expenses. Bachelor’s degrees often require around 120 credits and so are of course more expensive. For the above numbers that’s between $4,200 and $ $60,000.

Online courses that are given by institutions specializing in online career based education are usually less expensive (often considerably) than traditional colleges and universities that simply offer courses online. These types of institutions cater to people in search of certification and degrees quickly and inexpensively. The thing to keep in mind is the quality of the education you’re getting and how it relates to the price. “Diploma mills” and the like are not a good bet, because while they may be cheap in the short run, they may not qualify you for the type of job or job level that you’re after.

Reputation/Accreditation

The only way to see if a teaching institution, offline or online, is reputable is to research it. If a medical billing or coding course interests you, get as much background information as you can about it, check out review sites, and consult the Better Business Bureau in the state where it is based. Keep in mind it is not only question of seeing whether an institution is legitimate but also whether it is well regarded and given some academic prestige.

Accreditation is also an important factor. Certain professional organizations recognize some schools both on and offline as being accredited and others not. This isn’t to say the school must be accredited by one of these organizations to be reputable or good, but it tends to suggest a school is well regarded in the field if it is. See the other post on this blog: How to Find the Best Medical Billing Schools for more information about accreditation.

These are some of the basic factors you can use to evaluate online medical billing and coding courses and the schools that offer them. Below are some sites you can use to search for a wide variety of on and offline schools that offer medical coding and billing courses. The first three links are good ones to know – these are the main professional/accreditation organizations in the field, and they lost member educational programs of all types that are accredited by them:

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM)

All Allied Health Schools

E-Skolar

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