Getting certified in medical billing includes passing an exam that is administered by one of the industry’s accreditation organizations, but before you are ready to take the test, there is a lot of study and training involved. Whether you want to work for a local physician or a medical billing company, you will need to understand medical coding and billing practices.
Medical billing is complex because there are so many codes involved, and every specialization has its own unique aspects that may differ from any other ones. There are many different ways to go about getting the education you need, and unlike getting a college degree, which requires basically the same number of courses and class hours wherever you go to school, the range in medical billing courses is wide.
You may only have classes for a few months or over a year, and may have to pay a few hundred dollars or it could cost thousands. If all schools provided the same education, it would make sense to bargain shop, but that isn’t the case. Programs vary widely and this is not a decision to make solely on price or convenience.
So how do you make the right choice? Here are some things to consider
Determine Your Goal: Is medical billing something you see as a career, or is it just something you want to do for a steady income for a few years while you get ready to move on to something bigger? If you need a job soon and don’t plan to do it for more than a couple of years, then it would make sense for you to do a shorter, more basic certification course. On the other hand, if you are excited about the long-term job potential with a medical billing company, it is worth looking into more in-depth training that will align with further education and higher-level certifications.
Consider Your Learning Style: Do you learn better in person or online? If you like online courses, do you prefer video or text? If you can find a program at a local community college, you may save a lot of money, but could have to fit into a class schedule on campus. Another thing to consider is whether the course is on a timeline or at your own pace. If you have to work around job and family responsibilities, it may be best to have flexibility in your schedule, but on the other hand, a timeline and due-dates can help you keep on track with finishing your courses.
Research Available Courses: Once you know whether you want to take an online or in-person class, it’s time to start looking into the schools that are available to you. If it doesn’t matter which of those you go with, you can just go ahead and include both in your research.
Basic questions to answer include how long the course takes, how much it costs and what credentialing exam it would prepare you to take. More importantly, find out what the goal of the program is. Some will be just to teach enough coding for you to get a job in the field, whereas others are very comprehensive and intend to lay the foundation for you to be able to quickly move into a managerial role in a medical billing company.
Make a Commitment to Your Own Success
Finding time to study can be challenging, but if you have decided to pursue medical billing and coding, it will be worth the effort. The field is growing and there is a lot of potential for you to develop a career or even start your own medical billing business so you can work from home after you have some experience.