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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Medical Billing

Majors Overview February 21, 2014

Receive information about an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in medical billing and its educational requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education choices.

A.A. Programs in Medical Billing

Associate’s degree programs in medical billing or insurance billing and coding are devised to teach students about processing medical bills, coding procedures and filing records. Schools typically award an Associate of Applied Science degree to graduates of the program who can aim to join the workforce immediately on completion of the program through entry-level jobs in health care offices. A majority of 2-year programs are offered at universities and colleges; online programs are offered by some schools. Many associate’s degree programs in medical billing are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria related to a medical billing associate’s degree program typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Students are expected to be fluent in high school level courses in computer science, math, health, chemistry and biology (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Coursework

Coursework is devised to train students to work in various medical environments, including clinics, private practices and hospitals. Apart from general education courses, students are also taught imparted basic medical knowledge, office practices, computer aptitudes, and communication skills. Coursework may typically include:

•Electronic medical billing
•Medical assisting
•Health information management
•Coding procedures
•Medical reimbursement systems
•Medical terminology
•Business communication
•Human diseases

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth of 22% has been predicted for medical records and health information technicians during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The optimistic projection is based on the assumption that growth will be driven by an aging population leading to new treatments for ailments and greater demand for electronic health records. In 2012, medical records and health information technicians took home an average annual wage of $34,160 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Medical billing professionals with bachelor’s or master’s degree enjoy better advancement opportunities (BLS). Those interested in continued education can seek managerial roles by completing degree programs in health information administration or related areas to obtain a broader perspective of the health care industry and complete courses in health data systems, health care quality and privacy policy.

Certification options are available to medical billing professionals whereby they can demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the field to potential hirers. Many certifications are offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA); these include the Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) and the Certificate Coding Associate (CCA). Minimum experience or education requirements must be met by interested individuals in order to be allowed to take the AHIMA-administered exams for these certifications.

These professionals can also seek the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders. Eligibility criteria for the credentialing exam include completion of an associate’s degree and a minimum of two years of coding experience. Certification holders are required to complete 36 hours of continuing education credits in order to ensure recertification.

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