Medical Billing and Coding Schools in Alabama - AL
With Alabama ranking last place in physical health in a recent WalletHub survey ranking the happiest states in the country, students pursuing health care careers in the state could find a variety of new opportunities as the state sets out to improve its outlook. Medical billing and coding is a fast-growing career in Alabama and across the entire country. This career affords students the opportunity to enter the field with education typically requiring two years of school or less. Billers and coders are an important part of the health care process, determining what medical code to enter for record-keeping and billing purposes and submitting claims to health insurance companies so doctors can be reimbursed as quickly as possible for their work.
Alabama medical billing and coding schools coursework and programs
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), students interested in medical billing and coding schools in Alabama can find programs ranging from the diploma to associate degree. Depending on requirements, these programs typically take one to two years to complete, but students may be able to take longer if they wish. Required coursework in coding and billing will vary upon the program, but typical courses could include:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Billing and Reimbursement
- Medical Coding: International Classification of Disease
- Medical Terminology
- Microcomputer Fundamentals in Healthcare
An externship could be part of a program, providing students with the opportunity to gain hands-on skills in a health care setting under the supervision of a trained professional. Upon completion of their undergraduate program, students may wish to pursue certification through an organization such as the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), which offers five different exams for medical coding specialties and one exam for medical billing.
The AAPC is not the only organization to offer certification, as the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) also does through its Billing and Coding Specialist Certification (CBCS). This certification, as do many others, require continuing education units to stay certified. However, as the NHA points out, certification may be helpful to billers and coders looking for more job opportunities or better pay. Licensing is not necessary for medical coders and billers to seek employment, but certification may be preferred by employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov).
Medical billing and coding career overview
The BLS reports that medical records and health information technicians, which include medical billers and coders, earned a national mean annual wage of $16.81 nationwide as of May 2013. In Alabama, these wages were lower at $13.15 per hour, but students enrolled in one of the Alabama medical billing and coding schools may want to keep in mind that the state has a cost of living that falls well below the national average.
According to the BLS, job opportunities for medical records and health information technicians are expected to grow by 22 percent nationwide from 2012 to 2022, leading to the potential creation of 41,100 new positions. In Alabama, job growth could be nearly just as fast, reaching 21.2 percent during the same time period. Medical billers and coders often work in many different types of settings, but many of them seek employment in hospitals.
Alabama, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=AL&p=51.0714
Alabama, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
"Alabama 50th most happy state, physical health lowest," InsuranceNewsNet, Sept. 28, 2014, http://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/2014/09/28/alabama-50th-most-happy-state-physical-health-lowest-a-560778.html#.VDgIv-eiEy4
Billing and Coding Specialist Certification, National Healthcareer Association, http://www.nhanow.com/billing-coding.aspx
Cost of Living Data Series, Second Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Development Institute, http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/
Medical Billing and Coding Diploma, Virginia College (Birmingham, Ala.), http://www.vc.edu/diplomas/medical-billing-coding-birmingham.cfm
Medical Certification Overview, American Association of Professional Coders, https://www.aapc.com/certification/index.aspx
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292071.htm
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Alabama, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm#00-0000
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm
What Does a Medical Coder Do? American Association of Professional Coders, https://www.aapc.com/what-does-a-medical-coder-do.aspx