Medicare Billing Training and Education Program Summaries

Educational programs specifically in Medicare billing are usually not available; however, general medical billing and coding programs are available at the certificate, associate and bachelor's degree level. Certificate and associate degree programs offer coursework in Medicare billing alongside training in general medical billing methods. Bachelor's degree programs focus on business administrative practices pertaining to healthcare organizations.

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Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding

Certificate programs in medical billing cover the skills necessary for processing healthcare transactions, including basic medical terminology, patient file management and the intricacies of various insurance systems. Processing Medicare claims is usually taught later in the program so students have the educational foundation to contextualize the Medicare system. Medicare billing issues, home health benefits, women's health benefits and payment reimbursement are all points covered in handling Medicare billing processes.

Medical billing and coding education programs often prepare students to sit for national certification exams like the one offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders. A high school diploma is necessary for acceptance to a certificate program and sometimes a computer aptitude test is given to ensure a student has basic computer skills.

Program Coursework

Certificate programs for medical billing take between eight weeks and 18 months to complete and are generally made up of 6-18 courses. Some programs are offered completely online without a certain schedule, to fit a student's personal needs. Subject matter relating to Medicare billing may include:

  • Medicare eligibility
  • Federal mandates regarding Medicare
  • Processing Medicare claim forms
  • Identifying Medicare insurance cards
  • Fraud and abuse in Medicare

Employment Outlook

Medical records and health information technician opportunities in general are expected to increase by as much as 21% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); this is faster-than-average growth compared to other occupations (www.bls.gov).

There are positions available for medical records and health information technicians in a number of organizations, but the most lucrative salaries are offered in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing positions. The BLS reported an average yearly salary as of May 2012 of $66,060 for those employed in the pharmaceutical industry. Medical records and health information technicians as a whole earned a median annual salary of $34,160, the BLS stated.


Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding

Associate degrees in medical billing and coding may be earned nationwide, often through online degree programs. The comprehensive curriculum trains students in computer technology, insurance industry issues, administrative functions and the submission of medical claims. Medicare law and billing practices are discussed and compared to Veterans Affairs, private, state and federal insurances to give a broad-spectrum overview of the various reimbursement practices in place. A high school diploma is usually the only prerequisite for entering an associate degree program.

Program Coursework

Associate degree programs offer coursework in Medicare billing procedures in conjunction with the following subjects:

  • Medical terminology
  • Keyboarding techniques
  • Insurance laws and regulations
  • Coding and billing software
  • Completion and submission of medical claims
  • Ethics in insurance coding and billing
  • Anatomy and physiology knowledge
  • Basic pharmacology

Employment Outlook

According to the BLS, the increased use of medical services by an aging population and general growth in the healthcare and social assistance industries will contribute to a projected job growth of 41%, much faster than the average for all occupations, for medical secretaries of all kinds from 2010-2020. As of May 2012, the BLS reported, the median annual salary for medical secretaries was $31,350.

Continuing Education

The bachelor's degree program most closely related to medical billing and coding is a health information management degree. The coursework combines skills in computer sciences, business organization, health sciences and healthcare management. Students learn how to understand and analyze procedural practices in healthcare organizations relating to coding, billing, human resource management, patient intake and reimbursements. Graduates are prepared to work in administrative or supervisory healthcare positions.

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