Health Claims Specialist Certification and Training Programs

As the population ages, the need for healthcare rises. The responsibility for accurate medical coding and billing falls to health claims specialists, also known as medical records and health information technicians. Read on for more information about training and certification paths to employment. Schools offering Medical Billing Administrative Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Health Claims Specialist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most medical records and health information technicians or specialists hold an associate's degree in health information technology. Associate's degree programs always contain a specified number of general education courses, but certificate programs don't include these courses because certificate programs are generally designed for accelerated entry into the workplace.

In some cases, earning a certificate alone may make you eligible for an entry-level position in medical billing and coding; however, if you wish to continue your education in a bachelor's degree program, an associate's degree program is the better fit. Many, if not all credits earned in an associate's degree program may be transferred to a 4-year bachelor's degree program.

Program LevelsCertificate, associate's degree
Course TopicsMedical law, coding, computer applications, health information organization
Certification TitlesCertified Coding Associate, Registered Health Information Technician
Job Growth*15% for medical records and health information technicians for 2014-2024

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Training Can I Expect in a Program?

Programs may require you to complete prerequisite courses, such as human anatomy and physiology and medical terminology. Typical courses you might encounter include medical law and ethics, medical coding, health information organization, medical insurance billing, computer applications and reimbursement. Programs generally require that you complete an internship or practicum at a school-partnered facility.

Online certificate and associate's degree programs are also available. Though you may complete most requirements online, any clinical components must be completed in a live setting. Subject to school approval, you may be able to fulfill your in-person requirements at a healthcare facility near your home.

Why Should I Become Certified and What Are Some Available Certifications?

The BLS states that most employers prefer to hire certified medical records and health information technicians. Two primary agencies that administer certification examinations are the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

If you complete an accredited certificate program in medical coding, you may qualify to sit for the AHIMA examination leading to the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) designation. Though the AAPC recommends that you hold an associate's degree, a certificate and two years of appropriate work experience may qualify you to sit for the AAPC's Certified Professional Coder (CPC) examination.

If you earn an associate's degree through a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), you may be eligible to sit for the examination that leads to the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) designation. The RHIT exam is administered by the AHIMA.

What Are Some Industry Projections?

The BLS projected that employment opportunities for medical records and health information technicians were expected to increase 15% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the BLS determined the median wage for all medical records and health information technicians to be $37,110.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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