How to Become a Medical Biller and Coder near Tempe Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the healthcare field by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Tempe AZ, it’s important that you choose the right school so that you receive the necessary education to guarantee your success. As you probably know, healthcare is one of the fastest growing fields in the USA, and a growing number of options are offered both online and on campus to obtain the training that you need. But just where do you begin? A number of aspiring students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then comparing cost. Or they might surf the internet looking for online classes and go with the cheapest one. But while cost and location are relevant issues when making your selection, they should not be the sole ones when evaluating medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifiers as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will review a list of topics that you should ask the medical billing and coding training programs you are assessing so that you can find out what you need to know before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what medical billers and coders do and the academic and certification options available.
Medical Coder Job Description
Medical coders are on the forefront of the billing systems for Tempe AZ medical practices and healthcare organizations. They have the responsibility to examine the treatment records of patients and assign universal codes to all services provided. These services can be for medical, diagnosis or dental procedures, or any equipment or medical supplies used. There are multiple codes that are used in the conversion, including:
- CPT codes (Current Procedural Terminology).
- ICD codes (International Classification of Diseases).
- HCPCS codes (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding).
Medical coders depend on information from sources such as physician and nursing notes, patient charts, and radiology and lab reports. Coders must know not only what total services were provided for accuracy, but must have a working knowledge of all government and private payer regulations that influence coding also. Improperly coded claims can lead to services not being paid for, services being paid at a decreased rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for improper or fraudulent billing. Since improper coding can literally cost Tempe AZ physicians and medical facilities multiple thousands of dollars in revenue each year, a reliable medical coder is an important asset to the healthcare organization. They can operate in any type of healthcare facility, including private practices, clinics, hospitals and critical care centers. It is not unusual for professional medical coders to operate at home as an independent contractor or offsite employee.
Medical Billing Job Functions
As vital as the medical coder’s function is, it would be for nothing without the collaboration of the medical biller whose efforts generate revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Tempe AZ healthcare organizations and are literally responsible for keeping them in business. In many cases the coder and biller may be the same individual within a healthcare organization, but they can also be two independent specialists. Once the coder has performed his or her job, the biller uses the codes furnished to fill out and submit claim forms to insurance carriers, Medicare or Medicaid. After being paid by the appropriate organization, patients can then be billed for deductibles and additional out of pocket expenses. On a regular basis, a medical billing professional may also do any of the following:
- Check health insurance coverages for patients and help them with billing concerns or questions
- Follow up on submitted patient claims and appeal those that have been declined
- Work as an intermediate between the medical provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for proper claim resolution
- Produce and control Accounts Receivables reports
- Produce and handle unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billing clerks not only are employed by family practices, but also Tempe AZ emergency care facilities, hospitals, medical groups or nursing homes. They may practice in every type of medical facility that depends on the incomes generated from billing patients and third party payers.
Medical Coding and Billing Training and Certification
It’s important that you receive your instruction from a reputable school, whether it’s a technical school, vocational school or community college. Even though it is not a requirement in most cases to earn a professional certification, the program you choose should be accredited (more on the advantages of accreditation later). Most colleges simply require that you earn either a high school diploma or a GED to appy. The most expedient way to become either a medical biller or coder (or both) is to earn a certificate, which usually takes about one year to accomplish. An Associate Degree is also an option for a more comprehensive education, which for the majority of colleges requires two years of studies. Bachelor’s Degrees in medical billing and coding are not abundantly available. After your education has been concluded, although not required in the majority of states, you may desire to attain a professional certification. Certification is an excellent way for those new to the profession to show prospective Tempe AZ employers that they are not only qualified but dedicated to their occupation. A few of the organizations that offer certifications are:
- American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
- Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC).
- The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS).
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Completing an accredited medical coding and billing program, combined with attaining a professional certification, are the most effective ways to advance your new vocation and succeed in the fast growing Tempe AZ healthcare field.
Online Medical Biller and Coder Classes
If you are looking for convenience and the flexibility of attending classes at home, then choosing an online medical billing and coding school might be an excellent option. They can be particularly attractive to individuals living in Tempe AZ who plan on going to school while still working or have other commitments that make attending classes on campus difficult. And as an additional advantage, online colleges are often less expensive than the standard classroom options. Costs for such things as tuition, course materials and commuting may be reduced or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online programs are reputable. That’s why it’s important to confirm that the online school you choose is accredited to ensure a superior education. We will review the benefits of accreditation in the next section. Just be sure to check that any online classes you are researching is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, for example the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are dedicated enough to commit yourself to this mode of learning, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Medical Billing and Coding Schools
Once you have a better idea what a medical biller and coder does, as well as what education options are available, you must begin the process of researching schools. But since there are numerous training options offered at community colleges and vocational, technical and trade schools within the Tempe AZ area, you need to have a ready list of questions in order to evaluate each one. And when you add all of the online schools that offer medical coding and billing classes, the task can become somewhat formidable. As we have already covered, location and cost are going to be important issues, especially if you have a limited budget and will be driving to classes from your Tempe residence. And confirming that the program and school are accredited should be part of your vetting process also. So let’s take a look at some of the other questions that you should ask the schools you are looking at so that you can analyze each one and make the ideal choice.
Is the Training Accredited? It’s essential that the program and college you decide on are accredited by a respected accrediting organization, for instance the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it’s an online college, it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Not only will accreditation help confirm that the training you receive will be of superior quality, it could help secure future employment also. A number of Tempe AZ healthcare organizations will only employ entry level candidates that have completed an accredited medical billing and coding educational program. And financial assistance and student loans are in many cases only obtainable for programs that have received an accreditation.
What is the School’s Reputation? Before selecting a medical billing and coding college, find out what its reputation and ranking are compared to other colleges. This is especially important if you have no experience in the profession, since potential employers will primarily be relying on the quality of your education. As we have discussed, making sure that the college is accredited is an initial step. Checking with school rating organizations, for example U.S. News and World Report, can verify the quality of the school also. Another option is to check with some Tempe AZ medical organizations that you might be interested in working for and ask which colleges they suggest. Keep in mind that even when the school itself does not have an excellent reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be highly regarded.
Is there an Employment Referral Program? Finding a job in Tempe AZ after graduating in your new profession might be challenging without the support of a job placement program. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is a good indication that the billing and coding school has a considerable network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also suggests that the school’s graduates are in high demand in the marketplace.
Where is the College’s Location? If you are intending on commuting to class from your Tempe AZ residence, then the location of the campus will be of prime importance. Of course if you enroll in an medical billing and coding online program, then the location of the college will not be a consideration. One thing to keep in mind is that if you go to classes at a junior or community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first research those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Total Cost? Medical coding and billing certification programs can fluctuate in cost based on the type of credential obtained and the amount of training provided. But remember, tuition is not the only cost of your education. Expenses also include such things as the cost of supplies, books and commuting. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to get in touch with the college’s financial aid department to see what is available in Tempe AZ. Naturally if you decide to enroll in an online college, a portion of these added costs, such as for commuting may be reduced or even eliminated.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Many students keep working while going to college and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, make sure that they are offered at those times. If you can only enroll on a part time basis, verify that the program you pick provides that option. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family responsibilities.
Considering Medical Billing and Coding School near Tempe AZ?
If you are considering enrolling in and attending a billing and coding school near Tempe AZ, following is some relevant information about the area that may aid in your decision making process.
Tempe (/ˈtɛmpiː/ TEM'-pee;Oidbaḍ in Pima), also known as Hayden's Ferry during the territorial times of Arizona, is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, with the Census Bureau reporting a 2016 population of 182,498. The city is named after the Vale of Tempe in Greece. Tempe is located in the East Valley section of metropolitan Phoenix; it is bordered by Phoenix and Guadalupe on the west, Scottsdale on the north, Chandler on the south, and Mesa on the east. Tempe is also the location of the main campus of Arizona State University.
Fort McDowell was established approximately 25 mi (40 km) northeast of present downtown Tempe on the upper Salt River in 1865 allowing for new towns to be built farther down the Salt River. US military service members and Hispanic workers were hired to grow food and animal feed to supply the fort, and less than a year later, had set up small camps near the river that were the first permanent communities in the Valley after the fall of the Hohokam. (Phoenix was settled shortly afterward, by 1867–68.) The two settlements were 'Hayden's Ferry', named after a ferry service operated by Charles T. Hayden, and 'San Pablo', and were located west and east of Hayden Butte respectively. The ferry became the key river crossing in the area. The Tempe Irrigating Canal Company was soon established by William Kirkland and James McKinney to provide water for alfalfa, wheat, barley, oats, and cotton.
Pioneer Darrell Duppa is credited with suggesting Tempe's name, adopted in 1879, after comparing the Salt River valley near a 300-foot (91 m)-tall butte, to the Vale of Tempe near Mount Olympus in Greece.
Pick the Right Medical Biller and Coder Program near Tempe AZ
Selecting the right medical billing and coding certificate or degree course is a critical initial step to help ensure your success in this exciting sector of healthcare. Medical billing and medical coding are two of the most rapidly expanding professions in the health industry. As a result, there are many vocational schools, junior colleges and other institutions that furnish training and instruction in medical billing and coding. As we have discussed, you can decide to attend classes either online or on campus. It’s also important that the school you pick offers an accredited program with an excellent reputation within the healthcare field. But however you choose to receive your training, by following the previous guidelines and posing the right questions, you will be better prepared to assess your options and pick the right program. And with the appropriate training, you can realize your career goal to become a medical billing and coding specialist in Tempe AZ.
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