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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Healthcare Reimbursement

Majors Overview February 18, 2014

Get information Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program in healthcare reimbursement and its coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and certification choices.

A.A. Programs in Healthcare Reimbursement

Coursework in a two-year associate’s degree program in healthcare reimbursement is usually augmented with courses related to medical coding. Schools may offer these programs either as associate’s degrees in healthcare reimbursement or medical reimbursement and coding, or other similar titles. Students are taught the basics of medical office protocol aimed at preparing them for entry-level jobs in the industry. They learn to prepare patient records, schedule patients, handle insurance arrangements, manage finances and process correspondence among the various skills obtained during the program.

Students enrolled in many programs use the coursework as preparation for the passage of national certification exams administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework

In addition to techniques related to insurance coding and billing, program coursework is devised to develop the technical skills students would need in medical reimbursement. Some programs may also include supervised externships are also included in some programs, aimed at honing students’ practical skills further. Coursework may commonly include topic areas such as:

•Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes
•International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes
•Medical pathology
•Medical terminology
•Anatomy and physiology
•Medical billing and reimbursement

Job and Wage Outlook

A healthcare reimbursement program is devised to train students in providing assistance to medical personnel including doctors in the administration of medical offices. Graduates can aspire for job titles such as medical office coder, medical billing clerk and medical office manager. A higher-than-average job growth of 22% has been predicted for medical records and health technicians during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In May 2012, these professionals took home an average annual wage of $34,160 (BLS).

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

While certification by AAPC or AHIMA is not mandatory, most recruiters prefer candidates who hold professional certification. According to an AAPC finding, certified professionals earn 17% more on average than those without professional certification. Certifications are offered to medical coders employed in a variety of work environments, including cardiovascular centers, hospitals and physician’s offices. Specialty certifications are also offered in respect of medical fields like gynecology, cardiology, urology and surgery.

Experience and education requirements have to be satisfied to qualify to take the certification exam while continued education will be needed in order to maintain certification. While there are no bachelor’s degree programs offered in healthcare reimbursement, those seeking continued education may opt for a bachelor’s degree in health information management, with similar coursework as in associate’s degree programs in healthcare reimbursement. However, the coursework is devised with greater depth aimed at preparing students for managerial roles in various medical work environments. The degree would qualify students to take the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification examination.

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