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Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist Associate Degree

Learn what an insurance billing and coding specialist does on the job and places where these professionals might work. Get information about degree options in the field and certifications that are available.

What Is an Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist?

As the insurance industry becomes more and more important to the medical field, the need for people who can process medical bills is increasing. In order to pay medical bills efficiently, insurance companies need them to be coded properly. The people who perform this function are referred to as insurance billing and coding specialists. As such, they are a type of health information technician. As a billing and coding specialist, you might find work in a variety of facilities including insurance companies, medical centers, doctors' offices, managed care organizations or ambulatory care facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that many employers of medical records and health information technicians, including billing and coding specialists, prefer to hire those with an associate's degree (www.bls.gov).

About The Job Health information technicians process medical bills; involves work at insurance companies, medical centers, doctors' offices, etc.; employers prefer associate's degree graduates
Program Overview Usually last for 2 years; include courses in medical terminology, finance, ICD-9-CM diagnosis coding, claims processing; internship completion may be required
How to Choose a Program Programs recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education recommended for ease of credentialing later
Employment Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for medical records and health information technicians)*
Median Salary (2018) $40,350 (for medical records and health information technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Associate's Degree Program Entail?

Depending on school practices and curriculum, an associate's degree program dealing with medical billing and coding may consist of 60-105 credits and take you up to two years to complete. You may be able to earn an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science a field such as insurance billing and coding, medical billing or medical office technology with a specialty in billing.

Typical courses you might encounter in a program include medical billing, coding and insurance, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, finance, ICD-9-CM diagnosis coding, claims processing and HCPS coding. Schools may give you the opportunity to participate in an internship or externship at a school-partnered facility.

If your personal or business schedule precludes in-person participation in a program, schools may allow you to fulfill most of your requirements online. If the program includes internships, labs or practicums, you may be required to complete those components in a live setting. Generally, your school can reach an agreement where you can complete the in-person requirements at a facility near your home.

What Should I Look for in a Program?

When considering an insurance billing and coding program, you may want to look for programs recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). This organization is an arm of the American Health Information Management Association. Some certifications, such as the American Health Information Management Association's Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential, require applicants to have completed a CAIIM-accredited program; passing an exam is also required to earn your RHIT designation.

What Is the Economic Outlook?

In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected employment trends for various occupations over the 10-year period from 2016-2026. During that decade, the increase in employment was predicted to be 13% for medical records and health information technicians. This group also earned a median salary of $40,350 in 2018, according to the BLS.