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Guide to Earning a Medical Billing Certification Online

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi•updated: 5/13/2010

A medical billing certification online offers the benefit of learning a solid and growing trade with the convenience of doing it from home. Read on to find out what medical billing is and how an online certification opens doors to lucrative employment.

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    What is Medical Billing?

    In her article entitled “A Look at Online Healthcare Degree Programs,” Bright Hub’s own Y. Lacy reported on the wide array of healthcare related programs that are now offered online and focus on training back office support personnel. One that stands out is medical billing. Since a medical billing certification online is offered by a good many schools, it only makes sense that this field bears further investigation.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automation is a major factor in the work currently performed by medical billers. While in the past a high school diploma or some college work may have been sufficient to perform the billing functions, the increase in computer use and interconnectivity between numerous billing departments is gradually changing the nature of the field.

    Medical billing involves the gathering of chargeable line items, the compilation of these charges into a bill, a verification of the calculations, and of course also the incorporation of discounts, interest charges on unpaid balances, and reductions due to insurance payments. Due to the occasional insurance denials brought on by incorrect coding, medical billing also entails a lot of follow-up, file flagging, code research, and rebilling.

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    Who Employs Medical Billers?

    After earning a medical billing certification online, you may go to work for a major hospital, an urgent care center, a doctor’s office, contract billing service providers, or any other kind of medical office. Moreover, a number of medical billers move from online certification to online employment: they are becoming entrepreneurs who work from home for a variety of clients in need of billers.

    It is hard to estimate the actual median pay for this profession. According to the BLS, the median pay for medical billers may range from about $24,080 to $34,970. This does not include the self employed medical billers, who operate thriving home based businesses.

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    How Can I Earn a Medical Billing Certification Online … And Why Should I?

    Earning a medical billing certification online makes a lot of sense. The majority of the work is computerized, and thus the use of a computer to learn medical billing in the first place also forces the student to become more familiar and comfortable with using computerized spreadsheets, word processing applications, online forums, and also research options. This will come in handy when the recipient of a medical billing certification online is asked about computer knowledge and abilities.

    One medical billing certification online is offered by the U.S. Career Institute, a distance learning school that is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). The online coursework involves five modules that introduce future medical billers to the inner workings of the insurance industry, how medical claims are handled, applicable medical terminology, and also some basic anatomical knowledge that is crucial when it comes to understanding physicians’ charges.

    Remember that in most cases a medical biller cannot go back to the physician and ask for further information, and thus it is of vital importance that a biller knows what a term may refer to. Lessons in Medicaid and Medicare billing, diagnostic coding, and explanation of benefit interpretation are also included.

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    Advancing a Career after Earning a Medical Billing Certification Online

    Bright Hub’s Willa pointed out in her article entitled “Guide to Online Medical Coding Courses” that medical coding is a field onto itself. This is gradually being intermingled with medical billing and has given rise to online coursework and degrees in medical billing and insurance coding. Considering that a medical billing certificate may be obtained in as a little as four months, the forward thinking student may wonder what to do after learning the trade and finding initial employment.

    A good next step is an online medical billing and coding diploma, such as it is available from Herzing University. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the school is recognized as being regionally accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. The 12 months diploma course repeats some of the coursework a certificate holder may have already undergone – contact the school for prior learning credits and test-out procedures – but it delves more deeply into the coding aspect. This greatly enhances the employability of a worker, who earned a medical billing certification online and may also want to look for work in the coding field or take over a more supervisory role that requires coding knowledge.

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