2023 Best Online Associates in Medical Coding and Billing Degrees

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Earning a medical coding and billing associates degree can help prepare you for industry certification in the growing field of healthcare.

Best Online Associates in Medical Coding and Billing Degrees

This degree can set students on the path of working in healthcare without directly working in medicine. By maintaining patient and diagnostic information, medical coders and billers play an integral role in patient health and outcomes.

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The skill set of handling information data could also apply to related opportunities in the healthcare field.

Online Medical Coding and Billing Associates Degrees

Woman taking Online Medical Coding and Billing Associates Degree

An associate in medical billing and coding degree program aims to provide you with a foundation of health information technology, medical language, and billing skills.

You can dive into the fundamentals of billing, which covers billing codes for diagnoses and procedures to send to insurance companies. You can also learn how to code for treatment options and medical diagnoses, which ensures accurate patient information and care.

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In an associate program in medical coding and billing, you can expect to be exposed to a variety of subjects related to health information technology and the medical field, such as:

  • Medical terminology. This helps provide an understanding of medical language and its unique terms.
  • Medical coding. This overviews how coding works and why the coding system is structured in a specific way.
  • Anatomy and pathophysiology. This provides students with an in-depth understanding of the body as well as how diseases function.
  • Health information systems. This exposes students to data storage, patient recordkeeping, electronic filing systems, and more.

Many students can also choose to focus their studies on a specialty area within the healthcare system, such as psychology, dental, dermatology, radiology, and more. By gaining an understanding of health information systems, codes, and billing processes, graduates may be prepared to enter a variety of healthcare settings as coders and billers.

In addition to non-degree medical billing and coding certification online or on-campus programs, a degree program in this field can also help you prepare for industry certification exams. Graduates may also find opportunities in bookkeeping, medical auditing, data analysis, and more.

Medical Coding and Billing Careers & Salaries

Medical Coding and Billing Associates Careers

An associate degree for medical billing and coding can help prepare graduates for entry-level positions in a variety of healthcare settings.

Most graduates pursue industry certification and go on to work as medical records specialists or health information technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the career paths related to medical coding and billing.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Medical and Health Services Managers $101,340
Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars $55,560
Medical Records Specialists $46,660
Financial Clerks $44,760
Bill and Account Collectors $37,700
Information Clerks $37,450
Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $37,450
Medical Assistants $37,190
Pharmacy Technicians $36,740
Medical Transcriptionists $30,100

More advanced positions generally require experience or professional certification. Graduates typically decide to specialize in a branch of the healthcare field, such as psychology or pediatrics, where they can find a career as a medical billing or coding specialist in a physicians’ office.

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They may also find diverse opportunities within health information technology, such as in medical auditing. Auditors search for errors in medical codes in order to improve the process. Health information technicians, on the other hand, validate records requests, enter codes, and even may handle basic office tasks.

Medical Coding and Billing Associate’s Curriculum

Students taking Associates in Medical Coding and Billing

The curriculum of an associate degree for medical billing and coding can vary from school to school, but many core courses are similar. You can expect to take courses related to health information management, coding processes, billing processes, medical terminology, ethics, and more.

Below are some examples of courses that may be found in medical coding and billing associate degree programs:

  • Basic Coding: This course introduces coding formats and overviews how and why the coding system is designed as it is.
  • Medical Terminology: This course overviews the unique terms used in medical language by doctors and nurses.
  • Healthcare Law and Ethics: This course focuses on patient data safety, avoidance of fraudulent activities, and ethical and legal challenges related to billing and coding.
  • Coding Auditing: This course focuses on spotting coding errors, which helps keep patients and their records accurate and safe.
  • Pathophysiology: This course focuses on the causes of human diseases, along with their diagnoses, treatment options, and management.
  • Anatomy and Physiology: This course focuses on the major systems of the human body, along with their medical terminology.
  • Health Information Systems: This course focuses on information management in healthcare and includes an overview of electronic health records, filing systems, and data storage.
  • Pharmacology: This course focuses on pharmaceuticals and their effects on the human body.
  • Health Insurance and Reimbursement: This course explores reimbursement methodologies in the field of healthcare.
  • Process Information: This class overviews how to compile categories of codes, calculations, tabulations, and more.

Associate programs in medical coding and billing may also prepare you for industry certification exams.

How to Choose an Online Associate Degree in Medical Coding and Billing Program

Friends choosing Medical Coding and Billing Associates program online

When you’re choosing a medical coding associate’s degree online program, it can be helpful to keep these factors in mind:

  • Location. Many online programs do not require students to visit the campus, but some may require in-person clinical hours or courses. These can typically be completed somewhere near you, but it’s helpful to double-check these requirements before applying.
  • Cost. Determining cost is another factor to consider. You may want to compare programs’ costs as well as different schools’ financial aid opportunities.
  • Accreditation. To ensure that your program meets industry standards, you may want to select a program that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
  • Program format. Some online programs offer synchronous courses, which requires scheduled class times. Others offer asynchronous courses, which allows you to complete assignments around your schedule.
  • Student support and services. You may want to consider a school’s student support offerings, such as internship and mentorship opportunities. Networking and technical support are also beneficial for students who are enrolled in online programs.

You can determine which factors are most important to you. Your personal schedule and interests may also impact the type of program that you want to pursue.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Medical Coding and Billing Associates

Admissions requirements can vary depending upon your school, but many have similar requirements, including:

  • High school or GED transcripts
  • Minimum GPA requirement
  • SAT or ACT scores (if required)
  • Passing grades in prerequisite courses (if required)

A growing number of schools no longer require SAT or ACT scores for undergraduate admissions. Some programs may also require letters of recommendation along with your application. It’s helpful to check with your school to make sure you meet and complete their specific admissions requirements.

Accreditation

University offering Medical Coding and Billing Associates

Before pursuing a medical coding associate degree online, it’s strategic to make sure your college or university is accredited by a regional accrediting organization. Regional accreditation is essentially quality assurance that your academic institution meets pre-defined standards of quality.

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Some employers only recognize degrees from accredited universities. Likewise, many accredited institutions only accept transfer credits from other accredited schools. Your school’s accreditation status can also affect your eligibility to receive financial aid.

Medical Coding and Billing Licensure and Certifications

Certified Medical Coder working in the hospital
Earning a professional certification in coding and billing is a way to highlight your professional competency and commitment. Certifications in this field are provided through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA), and the American Health Information Management (AHIMA).

Common certifications include:

  • Certified Professional Coder
  • Certified Professional Biller
  • Certified Coding Associate
  • Registered Health Information Technician

There may be even more certifications available depending upon your state and specialization. Due to the expanding complexities of medical coding regulations and standards, more employers are wanting coders and billers to be certified.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Medical Coding and Billing Associates Financial Aid

Many students pursuing an associates degree in medical coding also seek financial assistance. There are a number of options available to students who qualify. You may be able to receive federal aid in the form of student loans, grants, or work-study programs. Loans and grants can also be granted through your state, depending on where you live or where your school is located.

You can apply for government aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may also be eligible for private grants and scholarships from various institutions. In addition, many companies offer employer programs that are designed to allocate a portion of funds to employee education. If you’re currently working, you can get in touch with your HR department to discover more.

What Is a Medical Billing and Coding Associates Degree?

Medical Coder working at his home office

A medical billing and coding associates degree is designed to help students understand and implement medical and billing codes for procedures and diagnoses. This degree focuses on equipping you with knowledge of specific codes and medical language, but it also teaches you about health information systems, biology, pathophysiology, analysis, and more.

Most associate programs in medical billing and coding also prepare you for industry certification exams. Most graduates pursue a variety of entry-level administrative and analytical positions in healthcare, such as that of a medical coder, medical biller, or medical auditor.

What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Medical Billing and Coding?

Medical Registrars discussing in their office

An associate’s degree in medical billing and coding can help prepare graduates to pursue certification as medical billers or coders. These professionals work in a healthcare or clinical setting. Graduates may also find entry-level opportunities as medical records specialists, health information technologists, bookkeeping and auditing clerks, medical transcriptionists, and more.

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In general, this associate degree exposes you to in-depth study of medical terminology and  health information systems. This could help prepare you for many different positions in handling healthcare records and billing systems.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associates Degree in Medical Billing and Coding Online?

Woman pursuing Medical Coding and Billing Associates Online

The time it takes to complete an online medical billing and coding associate degree depends on a few factors, including your school.

If you follow a standard 16 week semester and attend full-time, it generally takes 2 years to complete an associate degree. If you instead stay continuously enrolled year-round in 8 week semesters, you may be able to finish in less time. Of course, if you enroll part-time, an associate degree could take longer to complete.

What’s the Difference Between a Medical Assistant vs. Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree Online?

Medical assisting and medical coding are often grouped together, yet these programs prepare students for varying roles and duties.

  • Associates in Medical Assisting: Medical assistants are responsible for performing more administrative duties in the clinical setting, such as scheduling appointments and updating insurance forms. Plus, they may work directly with doctors to conduct basic lab tests, record medical histories, and other tasks.
  • Associates in Medical Billing and Coding: Medical billing involves contacting insurance companies and processing medical claims. A medical coder translates diagnoses, treatments, equipment, and other medical processes into alphanumeric codes for medical records.

These associate degrees will vary in their data and skill set focus.

Is an Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding Worth It?

Medical Records Specialist & Doctor, discussing

Yes, an associate degree in medical billing and coding is worth it for many students. This degree path exposes you to health information system technologies, medical terminology and anatomy, and billing processes. This knowledge may lead to a diverse set of opportunities in healthcare settings.

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Most graduates pursue certification as a medical billing or coding specialist. They then provide and record the codes that are critical to efficient billing and recordkeeping in healthcare facilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical records specialists is also projected to grow 7% over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Associates in Medical Coding and Billing Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Berkeley College

Berkeley College

Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Bryant & Stratton College

Bryant and Stratton College

Bryant & Stratton College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Central Texas College

Central Texas College

Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Cowley College

Cowley College

Cowley College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Drexel University

Drexel University

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

East Mississippi Community College

East Mississippi Community College

East Mississippi Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Herzing University

Herzing University

Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Highland Community College

Highland Community College

Highland Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Laramie County Community College

Laramie County Community College

Laramie County Community College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Northland Community & Technical College

Northland Community and Technical College

Northland Community & Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northwest Technical College

Northwest Technical College

Northwest Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pennsylvania Institute of Technology

Pennsylvania Institute of Technology

Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

San Joaquin Valley College

San Joaquin Valley College

San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Southeast Technical College

Southeast Technical College

Southeast Tech is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Getting Your Medical Coding and Billing Associates Degree Online

Man taking Associates in Medical Coding and Billing online

Completing a medical coding and billing associates degree online is a convenient way to gain specialized skills related to health information and medical billing and coding.

Receiving training in these areas could help prepare you for opportunities as a medical coding or billing specialist in healthcare settings. Medical billers and coders play a key role in patient records, which also serves as a foundation of patient health outcomes. Some graduates even go on to become medical auditors, medical registrars, health information technologists, medical transcriptionists, and more.

If you are ready to develop your skills in this growing sector, you could start exploring accredited schools today to discover the medical coding and billing associates degree program that’s right for you.

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Megan Patiry
WRITTEN BY
Megan Patiry
Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern New Hampshire University, is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner with the Academy for Modern Applied Psychology, and is a published author. Her areas of research and interests include behavioral psychology, mental health, and publishing.