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Want to take your career beyond Medical Coding?

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AHIMA's CCA Certification

AHIMA's Certified Coding Associate (CCA) designation has been a nationally accepted standard of achievement in the health information management (HIM) field since 2002. The CCA credential distinguishes coders by exhibiting commitment and demonstrating coding competencies across all settings, including both hospitals and physician practices.

CCA examination candidates must have a high school diploma from a United States high school or an equivalent educational background.

Although not required, it is strongly recommended that candidates have at least six months experience in:

  • A healthcare organization applying ICD-9-CM and CPT coding conventions and guidelines,
  • Have completed an AHIMA-approved coding certificate program
  • Have completed other formal coding training program
Source: AHIMA 2011
AAPC's CPC and CPC-H Certifications

AAPC's Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) credential is standard for physician office settings and held by more than 60,000 coding professionals. AAPC's Certified Professional Coder - Hospital Outpatient (CPC-H®) is held by professional coders working in hospitals and outpatient settings.

AAPC's Medical Coding Certification Requirements
  1. An Associate's degree in Medical Coding is recommended.
  2. Pay examination fee at the time of application submission.
  3. Maintain current membership with the AAPC.
  4. All exams will be reported with exact scores and areas of study (65% or less).

A CPC® or CPC-H® must have at least two years medical coding experience (member's with an apprentice designation are not required to have two years medical coding experience.) Membership is required to be renewed annually and 36 Continuing Education Units (CEU's) must be submitted every two years for verification and authentication of expertise.

Source: AAPC 2011
About Accreditation: Currently, there is no industry wide accepted accreditation for medical coding programs. Although AHIMA offers a small list of AHIMA approved coding programs (40 in the nation), many schools and institutions offer quality medical coding education and training, so their graduate are well prepared to sit for coding certifications through AAPC or AHIMA and to pursue careers as coding professionals.
Medical Coding, Medical Billing
Accredited online and campus based schools that offer medical billing and medical coding training and education.

Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
Medical Coders and Coding Technicians

Alert: ICD-10 Transition
On October 1, 2014, the ICD-9 code sets used to report medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures will be replaced by ICD-10 code sets. The transition to ICD-10 is required for everyone covered by the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA). The change to ICD-10 does not affect CPT coding for outpatient procedures and physician services.

Pathways to HIM Careers
(provided by AHIMA)

Certified Medical Coder (CCA)

A Certified Coding Associate (CCA) is an entry level medical coder who has fulfilled the education and examination requirements to earn AHIMA's CCA credential. A medical coding associate assigns numeric or alphanumeric codes to identify medical diagnoses and procedures on patient records. This coding allows insurance companies to process claims accurately and make payments to providers, as well as reimburse individuals. The work becomes more complex every year as researchers identify more conditions and develop new medical tests and treatments.

The medical coding associate works from documentation provided by physicians, nurses and other health care personnel. The associates identify diagnoses and treatments from charts, laboratory results and notes and assign codes from the industry manuals. Sometimes coding associates must ask a physician for further clarification when there is no single straightforward diagnosis or procedure. After the classifications are assigned, the coder enters the information into a computer database.

Medical coding associates most often find jobs in the finance departments of hospitals, where they assign industry-established classifications to health insurance claims. They also work in clinics, private practices, dental offices, nursing care facilities, non-profit agencies, third-party billing firms and insurance companies. Some coders are employed by hospitals or clinics that allow them to work from home. In smaller practices and clinics, medical coding associates might perform general office assistant duties such as registering patients and scheduling appointments.

Importance of CCA Certification

The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential is a excellent way for a new coder to demonstrate competency in the field, even without much job experience. The CCA credential can provide a competitive advantage when seeking a new job, career advancement opportunities, and salary increase.

Getting the CCA Certification

Candidates can pursue the CCA credential with a quality coding program and less than a year of experience. AHIMA and AAPC strongly recommend a quality coding program which lasts at least a year and results in either an Associate Degree or Diploma. Students learn medical terminology, anatomy and physiology and how to analyze medical records and operate billing software. They also study the two standard code classification manuals. Although not required for eligibility, AHIMA also recommends having at least six months of experience in a healthcare organization applying ICD-9-CM and CPT coding conventions and guidelines.

AHIMA's CCA Certification Requirements
AAPC's CPC and CPC-H Certification Requirements

Medical Coder Career Advancement and Salary Potential

Medical Coding provides opportunities for career advancement and increased salary potential. Coders can advance and broaden their careers by meeting additional education, experience, and certification requirements.
>> Read Guide on Certification (pdf)

Medical Coding Career Outlook

The future for skilled medical coders is excellent. There are two major economic forces that cannot be ignored that will push the need for medical care -- the ARRA stimulus plan passed by Congress in 2009 is pushing the healthcare industry to become more data driven and the growing senior population in the US will require more healthcare services. Both will fuel the increase in demand for qualified professional medical coders. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in medical records and health information to increase by 15% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

>> ICD-10 Transition in 2014 Fact Sheet (pdf)

About Accreditation and Certifications: AHIMA and AAPC are the leading credentialing bodies for the medical coding industry. AHIMA also awards credentials for health information management professionals. AAPC offers their own coding courses and does not accredit coding programs outside of their organization. AHIMA offers a small list of AHIMA approved coding programs (approximately 40 in the nation). CAHIIM is the accrediting body of AHIMA for undergraduate and graduate level health information programs. While relatively few medical coding programs are officially AHIMA accredited, many schools and institutions offer quality medical coding education and training that prepare students to sit for certification exams and start their medical coding careers.

Salary and employment figures are based on a national median and may vary by location.

Online Schools offering Medical Coding, Medical Billing

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Ultimate Medical Academy Online

Medical Billing and Coding
Associate of Science

As a UMA student in this online program, you’ll learn how to interpret medical terms into codes used for billing, understand the insurance billing process, operate software applications and more. Some classes you would take include “Medical Basics and the Healthcare Claim Cycle” and “Billing and Coding Applications with Simulations.” UMA provides an engaging online learning experience with personal feedback from instructors, educational videos and live study group sessions. After you graduate, you’ll be prepared to take the Certified Professional Coder exam. Typically, students complete this associate degree program in 17 months.*

Kaplan University Online

Business Administration / Information Processing
Associate of Applied Science

The objective of the Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration program is to prepare you with the knowledge, technical skills, and work habits to pursue positions in a variety of business fields. The curriculum is designed to provide a solid foundation in management and helps you develop teamwork and leadership skills as well as the ability to motivate people and communicate effectively. Decision-making and problem-solving skills are also emphasized. Choose the information processing concentration if you are interested in using software, spreadsheet, and database applications to organize and analyze information.

Health Information Management
Bachelor of Science (Degree Completion)

The objective of the Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management program is to prepare you with the knowledge, technical skills, and work habits to be an innovative and adaptable critical thinker and problem solver. Individuals that possess these qualities are capable of using available services and technologies to support operations, management, and decision-making initiatives within the health information field. In addition, the curriculum encourages lifelong learning and addresses the evolving professional skills of baccalaureate degree students.

Upon graduation, you may pursue positions that require you to perform either technical or management duties within the health information field. Typical duties may include overall department management; generation and analysis of health care data; implementation of quality improvement processes, risk management techniques, compliance strategies, and reimbursement procedures; research; and evaluation of legal issues. Employment opportunities may exist within hospitals, long-term care facilities, physicians' offices, health maintenance organizations, insurance companies, home health care, consulting companies, computer software companies, and government agencies.

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