How to Become a Medical Biller and Coder near Piedmont Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become part of the healthcare field by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Piedmont AL, it’s important that you select the right school to ensure that you receive the necessary education to ensure your success. As you may already know, healthcare is among the fastest growing fields in the USA, and a growing number of options are available both online and on campus to receive the training that you need. But just where do you start? Many future students start by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then comparing cost. Or they might search the internet looking for online classes and choose the least expensive one. But while location and cost are significant issues when making your selection, they should not be the only ones when researching medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifications as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will review a list of questions that you should ask the medical billing and coding schools you are researching in order to find out what you need to know prior to making your selection. Before we do that, let’s take a look at what medical billers and coders do and the educational and certification options available.
Medical Coding Job Functions
Medical coders are on the front line of the billing systems for Piedmont AL private practices and hospitals. They have the responsibility to review the medical records of patients and assign universal codes to all services provided. These services may be for diagnosis, medical or dental procedures, or any medical supplies or equipment 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 rely on information from sources such as physician and nursing notes, patient charts, and radiology and lab reports. Medical Coders must know not only what total services were provided for accurate reporting, but must have a working knowledge of all government and private payer rules that impact coding as well. Improperly coded claims may lead to services not being paid for, services being paid for at a decreased rate, or the physician or facility being penalized for fraudulent or improper billing. Since improper coding can in fact cost Piedmont AL hospitals and doctors many thousands of dollars in earnings each year, a good medical coder is a necessary asset to the healthcare organization. They can work in every type of healthcare facility, including family practices, hospitals, clinics and emergency care centers. It is not uncommon for professional medical coders to operate at home as an offsite employee or an independent contractor.
Medical Billing Job Description
As important as the medical coder’s role is, it would be for nothing without the collaboration of the medical biller whose labors generate revenue. Medical billing clerks are extremely important to Piedmont AL medical facilities and are essentially responsible for keeping their doors open. In many cases the biller and coder may be the same person within a medical organization, but they can also be 2 individual professionals. After the coder has carried out his or her duty, the biller utilizes the codes provided to fill out and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid. After being paid by the applicable entity, patients can then be invoiced for deductibles or additional out of pocket expenses. On a routine basis, a medical billing clerk might also do any of the following:
- Verify health insurance benefits for patients and help them with billing concerns or questions
- Check on submitted patient claims and appeal those that have been denied
- Work as a mediator between the healthcare provider, the insurance companies and the patients for correct claim resolution
- Generate and manage Accounts Receivables reports
- Produce and deal with unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billers not only work for private practices, but also Piedmont AL hospitals, urgent care facilities, medical groups or nursing homes. They can work in any kind of healthcare facility that depends on the revenues generated by billing patients and third party payers.
Medical Billing and Coding Programs and Certification
It’s imperative that you get your training 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 school you enroll in should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). Most schools simply require that you earn either a high school diploma or a GED to be eligible. The most expedient way to becoming either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to earn a certificate, which generally takes about a year to accomplish. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more comprehensive education, which for most colleges calls for two years of studies. Bachelor’s Degrees for medical coding and billing are not abundantly available. After your training has been completed, although not mandated in the majority of states, you may wish to attain a professional certification. Certification is an effective method for those new to the profession to show prospective Piedmont AL employers that they are not only qualified but committed to their occupation. Just some 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).
Graduating from an accredited medical billing and coding program, along with earning a professional certification, are the most effective ways to advance your new vocation and succeed in the fast growing Piedmont AL medical care field.
Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs
If you are looking for flexibility and the convenience of attending classes from home, then choosing an online medical billing and coding school might be a great alternative. They can be particularly appealing to students living in Piedmont AL who anticipate going to school while still working or have other responsibilities that make attending classes on campus difficult. And as an added advantage, online schools are frequently cheaper than the traditional classroom alternatives. Costs for such items as tuition, course materials and commuting may be decreased or eliminated. But be careful, as not all online courses are reputable. That’s why it’s imperative to confirm that any online program you enroll in is accredited to ensure a quality education. We will cover the advantages of accreditation in the next segment. Just be sure to check that any online college you are researching is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, for instance the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are disciplined enough to commit yourself to this style of learning, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Medical Billing and Coding Colleges
Now that you have a general idea what a medical biller and coder does, as well as what training options are available, you must start the process of evaluating colleges. But since there are numerous training options available at community colleges as well as technical, trade and vocational schools within the Piedmont AL area, you need to have a prepared list of questions in order to assess each one. And when you add all of the online programs that offer medical billing and coding classes, the task can become somewhat daunting. As we have already covered, cost and location are going to be relevant issues, especially if you have a modest budget and will be commuting to classes from your Piedmont residence. And verifying that the school and program are accredited should be part of your vetting procedure as well. So let’s take a look at several of the other questions that you should ask the schools you are looking at so that you can compare each one and make the appropriate choice.
Is the Training Accredited? It’s important that the school and program you choose are accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it’s an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Not only will accreditation help ensure that the education you receive will be of the highest quality, it may help secure future employment also. Many Piedmont AL medical organizations will only hire entry level prospects that have completed an accredited medical billing and coding training course. And financial aid and student loans are frequently only available for colleges that have earned an accreditation.
What is the Program’s Reputation? Prior to selecting a medical coding and billing program, find out what its reputation and ranking are compared to other programs. This is particularly relevant if you have no experience in the profession, since potential employers will mostly be relying on the quality of your education. As we have covered, verifying that the college is accredited is an initial step. Checking with college rating organizations, for instance U.S. News and World Report, can verify the quality of the school also. Another option is to get in touch with some Piedmont AL medical organizations that you may have an interest in working for and ask which colleges they recommend. Bear in mind that even if the college itself does not have an outstanding reputation, its medical coding and billing program may still be highly regarded.
Is there a Job Referral Program? Obtaining a job in Piedmont AL after graduation in your new field can be challenging without the support of a job placement program. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is a good indication that the coding and billing college has a considerable network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also indicates that the college’s graduates are sought after in the marketplace.
Where is the School’s Location? If you are intending on driving to class from your Piedmont AL residence, then the location of the program will be of prime importance. Obviously if you choose an online medical billing and coding program, then the location of the college will not be important. One thing to remember is that if you go to classes at a community or junior college, most require a higher tuition for enrollees that live outside of their districts. So you might prefer to first look at those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Medical billing and coding certification courses can differ in cost depending on the type of credential earned and the length of training furnished. But remember, tuition is not the only expense for your education. Expenses also consist of such items as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Piedmont AL. Of course if you decide to enroll in an online college, some of these additional costs, particularly for commuting may be lessened or even eliminated.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Many students keep working while going to school and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Piedmont AL, make sure that they are offered at those times. If you can only attend on a part-time schedule, verify that the college you choose provides that option. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Medical Billing and Coding School near Piedmont AL?
If you are considering enrolling in and attending a billing and coding school near Piedmont AL, following is some relevant information about the area that may aid in your decision making process.
Piedmont is a city in Calhoun and Cherokee counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. The population was 4,878 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Anniston-Oxford, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. Many surrounding communities are served by the 36272 ZIP code, including Spring Garden, Rock Run, Knighten's Crossroads, and Nance's Creek. The current mayor is Bill Baker, who was chosen by the city council to lead after elected mayor Rick Freeman resigned due to medical issues.
The area now known as Piedmont is a community that began in the early 1840s, located at the crossroads of two early post roads. Major Jacob Forney Dailey of North Carolina came to Alabama in 1848 and bought land in present-day Piedmont. Major Dailey named the area Cross Plains, and an official post office with that name was established on September 22, 1851.
In Reconstruction-era Alabama, an incident at Cross Plains affected race relations and the future of the northeast section of the state for generations as a result of the lynching of William Luke, a northern missionary, and several other men in 1870. In that year, the new northern-owned railroad to connect Washington, D.C. and the North with New Orleans was to have its headquarters near the small northeast Alabama town, at Patona. After the Ku Klux Klan-led lynchings, however, the headquarters was moved, and the town never achieved the dominant position in Calhoun County, with Anniston, founded the next year, achieving that status instead.
Enroll in the Best Medical Billing and Coding Training near Piedmont AL
Enrolling in the ideal medical coding and billing degree or certificate course is a very important first step to help ensure your success in this exciting sector of medical care. Medical billing and medical coding are two of the fastest growing jobs in the medical sector. Because of this, there are many vocational schools, junior colleges and other institutions that furnish training and education in medical coding and billing. As we have reviewed, you can decide to attend classes either online or on campus. It’s also imperative that the school you pick offers an accredited program with an exceptional reputation within the healthcare field. But however you decide to receive your training, by adhering to the previous guidelines and asking the appropriate questions, you will be better prepared to evaluate your options and choose the right college. And with the appropriate training, you can realize your career goal to become a medical billing and coding specialist in Piedmont AL.
More Marvelous Cities in Alabama