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.
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.
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
Medical billing technician opportunities are expected to increase by as much as 20% between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); this is a much faster than average growth compared to other occupations (www.bls.gov). There are positions available for medical billing specialists in a number of organizations, but the most lucrative salaries are offered in federal executive branch positions. The BLS reported a median yearly salary in May 2009 of $45,120 for those employed in the federal sector.
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.
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
According to the BLS, the best job opportunities in medical billing and coding are available to those who have a keen understanding of computer software programs and technology. Employment growth in the medical billing profession will result from increases in medical tests, treatments and procedures as the population ages. Medical facilities are increasingly using electronic health records instead of paper documentation, creating demand for more technologically adept medical billers and coders.
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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