Best Online Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs 2021

Updated May 18, 2023 | Staff Writers

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Medical records and health information technicians manage health data in physicians' offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. They collect patient data and use various classification systems to code, organize, and secure this information in clinical databases and registries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects this occupation to grow 8% between 2019-2029, exceeding the 4% average growth rate for all occupations. These professionals also make a median annual pay of $42,630, higher than the $39,810 pay for all workers. Students interested in entering this field need a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree from an accredited medical billing and coding program. Employers may also require certification.

Community and technical colleges typically offer associate degrees in medical billing and coding. The curriculum provides students with the technical knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to enter this fast-growing profession. An online medical billing and coding program gives students the flexibility to continue working while earning the degree.

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How much does a medical coder make per hour?

According to the BLS, medical coders, also called health information technicians, make a median annual salary of $42,630, which amounts to $20.50 per hour.

What do medical billers and coders do?

Health information technicians code, organize, and secure patient and other data in clinical databases and registries. Health professionals use this data for purposes such as patient billing, insurance reimbursement, and data analysis.

Is medical billing and coding hard?

Medical billing and coding requires a detail-oriented mindset, as well as technical and analytical skills.

How many hours a week do medical coders work?

Medical coders typically work 40 hours per week. Some facilities, like hospitals, may require employees to work extra hours and/or nights and weekends as needed.

The healthcare field will add more jobs between 2019-2029 than any other occupational cluster, according to the BLS. An aging population, as well as the ongoing pandemic, contribute to the high demand for healthcare services. Medical coders play an important role in the healthcare system.

These professionals maintain records and reports, receive patients, perform accounting duties, and complete other administrative tasks as required. Medical coders can work in roles such as medical coding specialist, health information technician, and medical records technician. Coders with a degree and some experience may pursue managerial positions.

Some schools offer a medical office management or medical administrative track as part of a medical billing and coding associate degree program. These tracks provide students with the training they need to pursue managerial positions right out of college.

Those interested in a medical billing and coding career can also work in niche markets. Cancer registrar is one such career option. These professionals work for registries that collect data about cancer, patients, and treatments.

Accreditation for a Medical Billing and Coding Program

Accreditation indicates that a school meets high academic standards with respect to factors like academic rigor, student learning outcomes, and faculty qualifications. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Six regional accreditation agencies accredit the majority of two- and four-year colleges in the United States.

Programs within a school may also hold accreditation. For instance, the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) grants accreditation to medical billing and coding programs.

Accreditation impacts students in important ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited schools. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire candidates with an accredited degree. Students can verify a school or program's accreditation status through the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

A medical billing and coding program typically leads to an associate of science (AS) or associate of applied science (AAS) degree. AS and AAS degrees usually require fewer general education credits than an associate of arts. The general education credits often focus on coursework applicable to the degree. For instance, students may learn technical math instead of algebra.

The technical curriculum provides an overview of healthcare topics, such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, and medical law and ethics. Students build on this foundation by studying medical terminology and intermediate and advanced coding. Many programs give students hands-on experience through a practicum or internship in a healthcare facility.

Full-time students typically complete the degree in about two years. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate, and some schools require the completion of placement tests such as the ACCUPLACER.

The following list outlines courses commonly found in medical billing and coding programs.

Courses in a Medical Billing and Coding Program

This course gives students an overview of the healthcare field. Students explore the healthcare delivery system and the various roles that healthcare professionals play within it. Students may also learn about the personal and professional qualities workers need to succeed in the field, including technical, teamwork, and time management skills.

This course introduces students to the medical vocabulary that healthcare professionals use to discuss the body's anatomy, clinical procedures, laboratory tests, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Learners study word roots, suffixes, prefixes, symbols, and abbreviations.

Learners study standard coding systems, such as the International Classification of Disease (ICD), Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System. These systems include terminology used to describe clinical procedures, technologies, services, and performance management. Enrollees learn how to apply coding and billing terminology in real-world contexts.

Candidates may need to pass certification exams to work as medical billing and coding professionals. This course prepares students to take these exams. The certified professional coder credential requires candidates to pass a 150-question multiple-choice exam administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders. Alternatively, schools may prepare students to sit for exams to earn certified coding specialist or registered health information technician credentials.

In this course, students learn how to apply billing and coding knowledge for registrations, authorizations, referrals, and other activities conducted at medical offices and related facilities. ICD enrollees learn how to enter patient medical data using CPT and ICD codes and verify patients' health insurance coverage for payment.

Professional Organizations for Medical Billing and Coding Students

Professional organizations provide resources and tools for career advancement. They may offer professional development opportunities through certifications, training, in-person and/or virtual networking events, and news and publications. They may also offer exclusive job boards.

A leading authority for health information, AHIMA advocates for the field while giving members access to certifications, continuing education opportunities, publications, and various events. AHIMA offers student membership discounts. With more than 190,000 members, AAPC is the world's largest training and credentialing organization for healthcare professionals. The organization offers the CPT exam and other popular certifications. AAPC also offers networking events, books and software, and continuing education opportunities. Students receive a membership discount. AMBA's membership consists of medical billers and coders. AMBA offers two certifications: certified medical reimbursement specialist and certified medical coding specialist. Members receive access to webinars, continuing education, a job board, and networking events. CAHIIM awards accreditation to educational programs that specialize in health informatics (HI) and health information management (HIM). While students cannot join the organization, CAHIIM provides a repository of useful resources such as information about HI and HIM programs and a directory of accredited schools.

Scholarships provide students with education funding. The eligibility guidelines vary depending on each sponsoring organization. Some organizations award scholarships based on financial need, while others offer awards based on academic merit or major. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for students pursuing an associate degree in medical billing and coding.

AHIMA Foundation Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: AHIMA offers scholarship funding for students in medical billing and coding programs focused on health informatics or health information management. Eligibility requirements include AHIMA membership and a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Amount: $1,000

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The HIMSS Foundation awards scholarships to students enrolled in an accredited program related to health information and technology. Eligibility requirements include at least junior status, HIMSS membership, a resume, and letters of recommendation.
Amount: $5,000

SkillPointe Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This foundation awards scholarships to students pursuing a degree at a community or technical college. SkillPointe awards two scholarships each month. Students must complete an essay to qualify.
Amount: $1,000

Best Online Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs 2021

#1 Keiser University-Ft. Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding


Keiser provides access to programming with multiple campuses and comprehensive e-learning. The 60-credit AS in medical administrative billing and coding provides students with the training necessary to enter a fast growing healthcare field. Participants learn how to process insurance claims, assign accurate medical codes for procedures, and perform other clerical and administrative duties in medical offices. The AS also prepares students to sit for the American Academy of Professional Coders credentialing exam.

The medical billing and coding program explores general topics in healthcare such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, and medical law and ethics. The curriculum develops administrators proficient in basic ICD-10 coding, CPT-4/HCPCS coding, and handling medical office procedures with insurance. Two courses focus exclusively on computerized medical office management and empowering students with coding practice experience.

The remaining curriculum requires general education coursework such as English and math. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

School Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Tuition: $31,371

#2 Central Texas College

Killeen, TX

Associate of Applied Science in Medical Billing and Coding


CTC primarily serves a 12-county area in Central Texas. Students interested in entering the healthcare field can complete the AAS in medical coding and billing entirely online or in a hybrid format. The 60-credit curriculum requires general education coursework, including composition, contemporary math, and business English.

Students receive an introduction to medical terminology and medical software applications.

They move onto advanced topics such as medical insurance, coding and classification systems, and coding and reimbursement methodologies. Students get hands-on experience during a clinical.

CTC allows students in the medical billing and coding program to continue on to a four-year degree at Midwestern State University in Texas. Enrollees complete the first two years at CTC and the last two years at MSU, earning a bachelor of applied arts and science with a health administration concentration. Admission to the AAS requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $5,258

#3 Laramie County Community College

Cheyenne, WY

Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology and Management


Established in 1968, LCC operates campuses in Cheyenne and Laramie. Students may complete degrees such as the AAS in health information technology and management online. The 63-credit medical billing and coding program prepares students to sit for the Certified Coding Associate Exam.

The curriculum begins with an introduction to healthcare careers and the computer software used by medical office professionals. Students develop technical proficiency in basic CPT coding, disease processes in coding, and basic ICD-10-CM/PCS coding. Instructors teach medical terminologies and medical office procedures. During the second year, students learn about reimbursement methodologies and health information management and its application. Students receive hands-on experience in both coding and health information management in virtual and real healthcare settings.

Learners may enroll on a full- or part-time basis. Admission requires high school transcripts and ALEKS placement exams.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $6,650

#4 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Fennimore, WI

Associate in Health Information Technology


Southwest Tech developed the associate in health information technology with nontraditional learners in mind. Students complete the 61- to 62-credit degree entirely online except for hands-on training in a healthcare setting. The sequenced program leads to a medical coding specialist certificate in the first year and an associate degree after the second year. The curriculum of the associate degree in medical billing and coding covers healthcare concepts such as basic anatomy and human diseases for the health professions.

Students learn about medical terminology, intermediate coding, and CPT coding. Participants also explore healthcare informatics and healthcare statistics and analytics. Students complete a supervised clinical experience at a healthcare facility. The capstone prepares students for the American Health Information Management Exam, and requires a portfolio of their accomplishments.

Learners may transfer the degree to a bachelor's in health information management at partnering senior colleges. Admission requires high school or college transcripts and ACT or ACCUPLACER scores.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $9,295

#5 Pennsylvania Institute of Technology

Media, PA

Associate of Science in Healthcare Management


Students in the Delaware Valley region and beyond enroll at P.I.T. The online AS in healthcare management incorporates a medical billing and coding component to prepare students for employment with healthcare providers. The 65-credit curriculum includes an introduction to the strategies, principles, and practices used in healthcare management. Students advance to ICD-10 coding, CPT-4 coding, and how to process insurance claims.

The curriculum includes a simulation of the daily duties that administrators perform at a medical office. Students complete general education coursework relevant to the field, including analytical writing, healthcare statistics, and math for healthcare professionals. Graduates leave the program knowledgeable about basic office software applications and management practices they can apply in their profession. They possess the skills necessary to make sound financial decisions in their roles within healthcare organizations.

Admission to the medical billing and coding program requires high school or college transcripts and a computerized placement test.

School Type: Private not-for-profit, 2-year

Tuition: $17,239

#6 Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Fergus Falls, MN

Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology and Coding


M State operates several campuses and offers an online AAS in health information and technology and coding. The 64-credit curriculum blends general education and technical coursework. General education credits acquaint students with concepts such as college writing and the use of business computers. Instructors introduce students to the fundamentals of healthcare delivery in the United States and the basics of health information management.

Students learn medical, procedure, and diagnosis coding. Enrollees study medical terminology and their abbreviations, as well as how technicians and administrators manage healthcare data. The curriculum covers various aspects of the revenue cycle and how to perform key duties such as audits and reporting. A notable course prepares students to sit for the Registered Health Information Technician Certification Exam.

Students supplement web-based coursework with a required on-site internship at a healthcare facility. Admission to the medical billing and coding associate degree requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $10,235

#7 Hazard Community And Technical College

Hazard, KY

Associate of Applied Science in Medical Information Technology - Medical Coding Track


Part of a 16-college system, HCTC manages several healthcare programs on five campuses. The Kentucky-based school offers an online AAS in medical information technology with several tracks, including medical coding. The 64-credit degree's limited general education credits include math and basic anatomy and physiology. All students complete common courses that introduce them to medical terminology, medical insurance, and medical office procedures.

Enrollees learn how to manage electronic medical records and perform duties such as financial accounting. Students complete 15 credits in the medical coding track, developing technical expertise in medical coding and business communications technology. All students pursuing the medical billing and coding degree learn about the productivity software used in the field. Enrollees supplement coursework with a field experience, internship, and/or simulated work experience.

Students may want to consider related AAS tracks: electronic medical records and/or medical office management. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $6,044

#8 Northwest Technical College

Bemidji, MN

Associate of Applied Science in Medical Coding


NTC administers an AAS in medical coding through Distance Minnesota, a partnership between four colleges. The 60-credit degree teaches students the nationally recognized coding system that classifies procedures and diagnoses in healthcare. The degree explores general healthcare concepts such as pathophysiology and pharmacology.

The AAS introduces students to medical office procedures and medical terminology. Enrollees develop technical expertise in medical billing and insurance and American Academy of Professional Coders medical coding. Students develop the problem-solving and leadership skills necessary to manage a healthcare support team. A course in the medical billing and coding program focuses on how to build and maintain good relationships with customers.

Students interested in advancing their education can seamlessly transfer the AAS to the online BAS in business administration at Mayville State University in North Dakota. Admission to the AAS requires a high school diploma or GED certificate and ACCUPLACER placement testing.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $11,348

#9 Minnesota State College Southeast

Winona, MN

Associate of Applied Science, Medical Coding Specialist


MSC Southeast offers 50 programs in eight career areas. The online AAS in medical administrative assistant requires 60 credits divided into general education and technical coursework. Students complete the degree on a part-time or full-time basis -- entirely online or in hybrid format with some classes on campus in Winona. The degree requires five general education courses that include math and written and oral communications. Students learn basic office skills such as word processing, the use of spreadsheets, and business communications.

Participants develop advanced technical knowledge of medical terminology, medical insurance, and health information management. Two courses train students in medical office tasks such as coding and health insurance procedures. During a health documentation course, students learn to transcribe various medical materials. The program offers the opportunity to work with real clinic/hospital documents.

Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $12,854

#10 Metropolitan Community College

Omaha, NE

Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management Systems - Medical Coding and Billing


MCC is one of the fastest growing schools in Nebraska. The online AAS in health information management systems offers a medical coding and billing specialization. The degree requires 105 credits that consist of general education and technical curriculum. Students learn key topics in healthcare, including medical law and ethics and management in healthcare. Other technical courses include medical terminology and introduction to coding and billing.

A required electronic health records lab explores topics such as prescriptions, lab orders and results, and privacy and security issues. Students move onto the medical coding and billing specialization, learning about disease processes, insurance, and coding and billing I and II. They also receive the preparation necessary to sit for the American Academy of Professional Coders Certification Examination. Students pursuing the associate degree in medical billing and coding complete an internship that gives them on-the-job training.

Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

School Type: Public, 2-year

Tuition: $4,863

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