Guide to Online Medical Billing Programs

If you’re interested in working as a medical billing and coding specialist, taking classes online can help you obtain the necessary training to work in this field. Online programs are designed to accommodate learners with busy lifestyles so you can complete your courses on a schedule that fits your needs.

The medical billing industry is growing so it’s a great time to take advantage of the opportunities available by earning your degree. We’ve put together a list of commonly asked questions about medical billing degrees so if you’re interested in learning more, click on the question below to jump to its answer. You can also visit our blog to find out additional information about trends in the field and other topical issues.

Online Schools in Medical Billing and Coding

Ultimate Medical Academy The Ultimate Medical Academy's Medical Billing and Coding Diploma program preps students to enter the field of health with fundamental medical records management and insurance processing skills. Certified professionals will help healthcare providers run their practices more efficiently by assisting patients with insurance forms and managing financial records with specialized software programs.
Purdue University Purdue University Medical Assisting degree prepares graduates to analyze medical records and abstract data for the purpose of billing and insurance reimbursement. Students learn how to transform procedures and diagnoses into numerical billing format, and qualifying students for future certification with various professional organizations. Graduates will possess the skills necessary for employment in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, and medical billing agencies.
Liberty University The Associate of Medical Office Assisting Program from Liberty University teaches the medical software, terminology and coding used for processing medical claims. The program provides the baseline knowledge graduates can use to find a job in this industry. Graduates will become invaluable members of the medical team.

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What is a medical billing degree?

Medical Billing

When you think of a career in the medical field, you usually think doctor or nurse, right? Well, not when it comes down to the other side of the spectrum with billing and coding careers.

A medical billing degree prepares students to work in medical billing, assessing paperwork, entering data, and communicating with medical facilities and insurance companies. The interaction between the doctor, hospital, or other healthcare facility and the insurance company is known as the billing cycle. Some billing cycles are very short, while others are very long; it all depends on the complexity of the treatment and whether or not the insurance is going to cover it. This can be a long process at times and is aided by a medical billing agent who keeps track of the status of the bill. In a medical billing degree program students learn how to work with inpatient and outpatient billing. Some programs also teach students coding, which revolves around three primary types of medical coding. The program will help students prepare for a medical billing certificate, which enables them to work in their state. There are three types of certification exams a medical billing agent can sit to become eligible for work.

The majority of medical billing degree programs take eight months to a year to complete. The course work consists of learning billing procedures and coding, if you plan on being certified in both areas. Whether you are studying medical billing or billing and coding, you can expect the program to take about a year before you’re able to gain employment. Some medical billing degree programs that are exclusively online limit how many courses a student can take at once. For these programs, you may be in school about 14-16 months depending on the program. All of the details on how long a program will take and how many hours you’re allowed to register for will be explained in a course packet at a school or on the program’s website.

Can I earn a medical billing degree online?

Definitely! There are many, many options for someone exploring an online medical billing degree. Many of these programs are specifically catered for part time students who are under the stress of family life and work. Because of this the program may take longer to complete, but you’ll move at a pace that works for your lifestyle and schedule. This is very important when completing online courses. You never want to sign up for too much too soon, which is why some part time programs limit how many course you’re allowed to take. The idea is to set students up for success.

Flexibility is the main reason people choose to enroll in an online degree program. Online courses offer flexibility that traditional classes do not. You are able to do all of the work at home, on your own time. This is a major plus for working adults who have children to care for. A medical billing degree obtained online is viewed the same as one obtained in a traditional setting. You will not have a problem finding a job simply because you got your degree online. Think about your situation and what works best for your schedule. You can move at your own pace with an online medical billing degree.

What will I do as a medical billing agent?

A medical billing agent has a very important duty. He or she is responsible for every aspect of the patient file after the patient is diagnosed by doctors. Records contain a patient’s name, address, social security number, nature of illness, and the treatment plan. The doctor or medical professional in charge of the case creates a medical profile and course of action for treatment. This treatment plan is outlined in the records. From these records, a medical billing and coding agent relays the treatment plan to the insurance company via a series of codes. These codes appear on the medical claim form and are given to the insurance company. This is often done on a paper form, although some companies are converting to e-forms which are filled out electronically by a medical billing and coding agent.

This form is received by the insurance company which will deny or approve the claim. For high claims, insurance companies have their own medical reviewers who look over the claim. The medical reviewer assesses the legitimacy of the claim, the patient’s need for the procedure, and validity of the healthcare provider. If the claim is denied, the medical billing agent goes over the claim again, makes adjustments, and resubmits the claim. This can be done several times and goes on until the healthcare provider gives up or the insurance company pays the treatment in full. The rate of denied claims is high. About half of claims are denied upon first completion. There are several factors that play into this, including wrong diagnosis and treatments that are too similar to each other for one patient.

The job outlook for medical billing agents is exceptionally high and should remain that way for quite some time. The medical industry is growing as baby boomers age and populations in major cities continue to expand. As long as you graduate from an accredited school and have proper certification, you should not have an issue finding work as a medical billing agent. Many medical billing agents are now working from home since much of the work is done electronically. The transfer of medical billing to e-forms and revolving around technology may also lose some long time medical billing agents who are not willing to learn new programs. The medical billing field has seen little change in the past decades, but technology has quickly changed that. With e-forms, the appropriate documents and forms can be completed by a medical billing agent and sent the exact same day. The process of denials and resubmitting a form can also be done several times in one week versus stretching over the course of months.

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