If you want to become a medical coder like you see in doctor’s offices, you need to acquire the proper medical coding training. You may wonder if you can receive the proper training online for free.
It’s possible to find the training for free, but before you invest your time, you might want to consider your options.
Is a Medical Coding Training for You? Know the Job First
Medical coding a job that consists of using codes to transfer information from medical appointments regarding the diagnosis, procedures, equipment, and services. Basically, the coded document is like a shortened story of what happened at the patient’s appointment.
A coder must review and ensure the accuracy of the coding. The coder creates a document with the appropriate codes in order to send it to the insurance company, so it’s vital to use the correct codes.
As a coder, you use CPT®, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS Level II systems. Then, a biller processes the coded document and follows up on the claim. In some cases, the medical coder and biller are the same person. On the contrary, this isn’t always true, and the medical coder and medical biller are sometimes two separate people who work together to receive compensation for the claims.
Places Where Medical Coders Work
A majority of medical coders work in hospitals on either a state, local, or private level. Doctor’s offices hire the next highest amount of medical coders.
Depending on the job, you may have the option to work from home on your own schedule or at least on a flexible schedule.
Statistics About Medical Coding Jobs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a medical coder earned an average of $39,180 per year as of 2017.
The BLS provides statistics that denote the highest paying jobs were in scientific, professional, and technical services, where the average person made $$42,420. Individuals in hospitals made the second highest average wage of $42,090 per year.
About the Medical Coding Training
You can choose to complete a program that goes at your own pace. You may opt for a quick program that only takes around nine months to a year to complete and allows you to obtain a certificate or diploma.
On the other hand, you can choose to earn your associate’s degree in coding, which takes two years. You could opt to earn your bachelor’s degree in coding. A bachelor’s degree program covers not only the basics and some advanced information about medical coding, it also provides you with a general liberal arts education.
When you’re comparing medical coding training programs, you’ll notice the programs vary slightly. Some cover both coding and billing.
If you select an online medical coding certificate program, you can expect to gain knowledge about insurance claims, reimbursements, medical terminology, electronic health records, and insurance plans. You’ll learn specific codes you’ll use and receive training on how to use the programs to code properly.
When you complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you’ll complete courses related to anatomy and physiology. You’ll also complete math, computer science, biology, and health classes. You take more basic courses related to medical coding as well.
Educational Requirements of a Medical Coder
Generally, you require a postsecondary certificate to enter into the field of medical coding. The specific requirements vary from state to state and even job to job, so it’s best to research your state’s requirements before you make a decision to take a free medical coding training program or any coding program in general. While you may need an associate’s degree in some cases, usually you only need to undergo a certification program.
Certification Requirements for a Medical Coder
States don’t typically require medical coders or billers to have a specific certification. However, many employers specify they want a medical coder who possesses a certification through a nationally-recognized organization. In many cases even if the employer doesn’t require you have a certification, they prefer employees who have a certification. In other words, if you’re applying for a job as a coder and other applicants apply who have a certification, they may choose another applicant with a certification.
One example of an organization that certifies medical coders is the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC). This particular association offers basic certification programs that prove your competence in regards to basic coding and the programs needed to complete your job. The association also offers medical coding training to prepare you. Although the programs aren’t free, they do cover all the vital aspects of training you need to succeed as a professional medical coder.
Often, you need to take a test and earn a passing grade on it to earn your certification. It’s also necessary for many certifications that you pass an accredited medical coder training program first.
If you choose to specialize in an area of medicine such as working with a cardiologist, you may want to acquire a specific certification to show you understand this area of medicine and are familiar with the terminology. Those who work with oncologists must have their Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) certification.
Finding Online Medical Coding Training Programs
It’s not difficult to find online medical coding training programs by merely searching “online coding trading programs.” You can even find free programs including one from the World Health Organization and another from www.360training.com.
These programs help you learn the systems you need as well as the basics of coding. You don’t receive any formalized training regarding anatomy, physiology, or medical terminology. Without a general understanding of the medical field, you may struggle to read physician’s orders.
Should You Take a Free Medical Coding Training Program?
It seems really tempting to take a free medical coding training course, especially since it saves you time and money. However, you may find these programs aren’t enough for most employers or to sit for certification exams.
If you want to work in a specific area of coding or would like to obtain a generalized certification, you should look at the requirements before you decide to take a free medical coding training course.
Employers Prefer Employees with Training
If you decide you don’t want to sit for a certification exam and don’t want to specialize, you should still take into consideration the price a free medical coding program can have on your career. For instance, many employers will choose a person who has a diploma or degree from an accredited program because they want someone who receiving proper training. In most cases, the free training programs don’t teach you enough or give you an adequate amount of experience to prepare you for working in the field.
Additionally, an employer may pay more for a person who has a degree or certification and passed a national exam. You could save money by opting for a free medical coding program, but your employer may feel you deserve less money since you didn’t take the initiative to receive additional training.
Care About Your Career
Prospective employers look into what you did to prepare yourself for the career. If you put in the extra time and money to obtain the proper training, they feel as though you care about your career. If you take a short training program that didn’t cost you, they feel as though you don’t care about your career.
You also have to understand that many employers won’t even consider hiring you if you took a free medical coding program since it’s very basic. You lose out on many opportunities because you won’t meet the prerequisites.
Feel More Confident
By obtaining training from an accredited program, you feel more confident in what you do. Therefore, you’ll feel better about entering into the medical coding field when you completed a more extensive program than a short, free medical coding program.
You require less on-the-job training when you take a more extensive program. This means you can become more independent quicker. You might even have the necessary skills to work from home soon after, if not upon the hiring process.
How to Find an Inexpensive Medical Coding Training Program
Even though you more than likely don’t want to find a free medical coding training program, you can still find programs that are in your budget. It’s possible to find schools that are low-cost and still have their accreditation.
Your first step is to find a few different schools that offer medical coding programs. You then want to compare these options.
Next, you want to compare the curriculum of the schools and their prerequisites. At this point, you also want to make sure the school received its accreditation. Additionally, you should compare the prices when you’re looking into your options.
Don’t panic if a school’s price is more than $1,000. Often, you’re eligible for discounts, grants, or no-interest loans that can help. It’s even possible to apply for scholarships or a loan from your bank.
While free medical coding training isn’t always the best course of action, you may find programs that meet your needs if you take the time to compare your options.