Required Courses For Completing a Medical Coding and Billing Program

An estimated of above 82,000 health care professionals all over the US hold AAPC certifications in physician offices, clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals. The credentials represent a gold standard in medical coding, auditing, compliance, and practice management.  These gold standard credentials have been nationally recognized by employers, medical societies and various government organizations. Making sure you prepare for your credentialing examinations is a very important step to ensuring a successful career in this field. 

By exploring the medical coding certification needs, you take the initial step leading to the pursuit of a satisfying and successful career. Most employers of Medical Coders these require that the applicants have a quality level of education and experience since this is field is getting more and more demanding, complex and competitive. Medical coding certification of course allows you a unique advantage in achieving your goals. You have the option of choosing from a wide variety of national organizations which do offer certification after passing their examinations.

What Institutions Do The Certifying For Medical Coding and Billing Programs?

  1. American Health Information Management Association- The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) does offer several medical coding certifications which include the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), and Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P) credentials. The other requirement to get the CCA, on top of AHIMA membership and fully paying the application fee, is having a U.S. high school diploma or its equivalent educational background.  If you want to pass this exam and get your certification,  AHIMA suggests that you have around six months of experience in coding at a health care organization, or have finished an AHIMA-approved coding certificate program, or have finished recognized coding training program. In case you are interested in the area of specialized CCS and CCS-P, AHIMA highly suggests that you acquire three years of experience at minimum in a hospital or other physician-based setting where get practical experience of these coding applications. They also suggest that you finish coursework in anatomy and physiology, path physiology, and pharmacology, or have the ability to show high level of proficiency in the stated areas. You are advised to visit AHIMA’s website to get more detailed information on medical coding certification requirements.
  2. American Academy of Professional Coders- Getting a certification through the AAPC starts with membership and  a fully paid membership fee. The AAPC requires all the applicants has an Associates degree. However, if you have less than two years experience in medical coding, you will be seen as an apprentice after you pass their exam. After successfully completing 2 years, AAPC will then cancel that designation. You will discover various facts about AAPC and their medical coding certification requirements on visiting their website.
  3. Board of Medical Specialty Coding and Compliance- The Board of Medical Specialty Coding and Compliance (BMSC) offers the following coding credentials: Specialty Coding Professional (SCP), Advanced Coding Specialist (ACS) and Home Care Coding Specialist – Diagnosis (HCS-D). The only necessities for taking their exam are having a high school diploma or an equivalent educational background, on top of fully paying the registration fee that is inclusive of the cost of the exam. BMSC notes that their highly successful candidates will have had more than three years of coding experience in the specialty that they desire to get a certification or two years in home-care coding. You can check out the BMSC website to get some more information on medical coding certification needs. In case you are targeting a hospital or other health care setting which you would prefer working in, ensure that you contact the Human Resources department to make sure you meet all of the requirements. Request a meeting with the party responsible for desired job so they they can brief you on exactly what they are looking for in terms of experience, qualities and performance expectations. It may also be in your interest to get advice from some local colleges, especially if they do offer an Associate Degree in medical coding.

What Are the Requirements for Medical Coding Certification?

It is a hard task trying to pursue a career in the field of medical coding before you have received the basic training and education from a nationally recognized university, community college or vocational/technical school. By far the best training that you can get will come from a recognized college or university with a specific Medical Coding program or a technical or vocational school that specializes in this profession.  These two types of learning path will surely have all the requirements you need in order to get certified.

More than likely, one of the first requirements is that you already hold a high school diploma or a GED. Although, in today's educational environment you can get both over the Internet, that does require some basic computer knowledge.  You can also get your GED at designated places right inside your own community. This is true of many of these schools, displaying a transcript which shows that truly you have successfully completed a college-level computer course will adequately meet such requirement. In case you have not taken such a course, many of these schools will offer various in-house programs which will equip their students with the necessary computer skills.

Other than having a basic high school diploma, you specific certification requirements will depend on the type of medical coding certification you are getting. The main types of medical coding certifications are:

  • CCA
  • CCS
  • CCS-P
  • CDIP
  • CHDA
  • CHPS
  • RHIA
  • RHIT

Each certification has different requirements that should be completed before you can proudly wear that title. 

Something else that you need to keep in mind of is that most of the medical coding certification programs will include a normally involves an internship at a local hospital, doctor’s office or clinic. Such internships may ask the participants to undergo some criminal background check. You are strongly advised to complete a quality certificate program in case you are longing for certification from professional organizations such as the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and this hold even for the entry-level certification they offer, the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential. To help you achieve your goals better, AHIMA includes a list of schools offering coding certificate programs on its website.