How to Choose the Right Medical Billing and Coding Course near Fort Wainwright Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to become part of the healthcare field by enrolling in a medical billing and coding school near Fort Wainwright AK, it’s important that you find the right school so that you receive the necessary education to guarantee your success. As you no doubt know, healthcare is among the fastest growing industries in the USA, and a growing number of options are offered both online and on campus to obtain the training that you need. But just where does one begin? Many aspiring students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then comparing cost. Or they may search the internet looking for online schools and select the cheapest one. But while location and cost are relevant issues when making your selection, they should not be the only ones when evaluating medical billing and coding schools. Such qualifiers as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will review a checklist of questions that you should ask the medical billing and coding training programs you are researching in order to learn what you must know prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what medical coders and billers do and the training and certification options available.
Medical Coding Job Functions
Medical coders work on the front line of the billing systems for Fort Wainwright AK medical practices and hospitals. They have the responsibility to examine the treatment records of patients and convert all services provided into universal codes. These services may be for diagnosis, medical or dental procedures, or any equipment or medical supplies used. There are multiple codes that are used in the conversion, including:
- CPT codes (Current Procedural Terminology).
- ICD codes (International Classification of Diseases).
- HCPCS codes (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding).
Medical coders rely on information from sources such as physician and nursing notes, patient charts, and lab and radiology reports. Coders must not only know what services were provided in total for accurate reporting, but must have a functioning knowledge of all private payer and government rules that impact coding as well. Improperly coded claims may result in services not being covered, services being paid for at a decreased rate, or the provider being penalized for improper or fraudulent billing. Since improper coding can in fact cost Fort Wainwright AK doctors and hospitals multiple thousands of dollars in earnings each year, a proficient medical coder is an important asset for any healthcare organization. They can work in any kind of healthcare facility, including private practices, clinics, hospitals and critical care centers. It is not uncommon for professional medical coders to work at home as an offsite employee or an independent contractor.
Medical Biller Job Duties
As important as the medical coder’s function is, it would be for nothing without the contribution of the medical biller whose efforts produce revenue. Medical billing clerks are very important to Fort Wainwright AK healthcare facilities and are practically responsible for keeping them in business. Sometimes the biller and coder are the same individual within a healthcare organization, but they can also be two individual specialists. After the coder has performed her or his duty, the biller uses the codes supplied to complete and submit claim forms to insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid. After being adjusted by the appropriate entity, patients can then be invoiced for deductibles or additional out of pocket expenses. On a routine basis, a medical billing clerk might also do any of the following:
- Check medical insurance benefits for patients and help them with billing questions or concerns
- Check on submitted patient claims and appeal those that have been declined
- Act as an intermediary between the medical provider, the insurance carriers and the patients for proper claim settlement
- Generate and manage Accounts Receivables reports
- Generate and deal with unpaid patient collections accounts
Medical billing clerks not only work for family practices, but also Fort Wainwright AK emergency care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes or medical groups. They may practice in any kind of healthcare facility that depends on the incomes generated from billing patients and third party payers.
Medical Coding and Billing Instruction and Certification
It’s essential that you obtain your education from a reputable school, whether it’s a community college, technical or trade school. Even though it is not required in most cases to attain a professional certification, the school you choose should be accredited (more on the benefits of accreditation later). The majority of schools simply require that you have either a high school diploma or a GED to appy. The most expedient way to become either a medical coder or biller (or both) is to obtain a certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. An Associate Degree is an alternative for a more expansive education, which for most schools calls for two years of studies. Bachelor’s Degrees for medical billing and coding are not widely offered. Once your education has been completed, although not required in the majority of states, you may desire to attain a professional certification. Certification is a great method for those new to the profession to show potential Fort Wainwright AK employers that they are not only qualified but dedicated to their occupation. Just some of the organizations that make available certifications are:
- American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
- Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC).
- The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS).
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Completing an accredited medical coding and billing course, together with earning a professional certification, are the best ways to accelerate your new profession and succeed in the fast growing Fort Wainwright AK healthcare field.
Medical Billing and Coding Online Training
If you are interested in convenience and the flexibility of attending classes in your home, then selecting a medical billing and coding online program may be a great alternative. They can be especially appealing to individuals living in Fort Wainwright AK who plan on attending school while still working or have other responsibilities that make attending classes on campus challenging. And as an added benefit, online programs are often cheaper than the conventional classroom options. Expenses for such things as tuition, study materials and commuting may be decreased or eliminated. But be cautious, as not all online courses are reputable. That’s why it’s imperative to confirm that any online program you choose is accredited to ensure a quality education. We will cover the benefits of accreditation in the next segment. Just make sure to check that any online training you are looking at is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies, for instance the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. So if you are disciplined enough to apply yourself to this type of learning, then acquiring your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Medical Biller and Coder Colleges
Once you have a general idea just what a medical coder and biller does, in addition to what education options are offered, you must start the process of comparing colleges. But since there many training options available at community colleges and technical, trade and vocational schools within the Fort Wainwright AK area, you must have a ready list of questions to analyze each one. And when you add all of the online schools that offer medical coding and billing classes, the project can become rather daunting. As we have already covered, cost and location are going to be significant issues, especially if you have a limited budget and will be traveling to classes from your Fort Wainwright home. And whether or not the school and program are accredited should be part of your vetting procedure also. So let’s review several of the additional questions that you should ask the schools you are reviewing so that you can compare each one and make the right choice.
Is the School Accredited? It’s vital that the program and school you choose are accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it’s an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Not only will accreditation help ensure that the education you receive will be of the highest quality, it could help secure future employment also. Many Fort Wainwright AK medical organizations will only hire entry level candidates that have completed an accredited medical coding and billing training course. And financial aid and student loans are often only available for colleges that have received an accreditation.
What is the Program’s Reputation? Prior to choosing a medical coding and billing program, find out what its ranking and reputation are among other schools. This is particularly important if you have no experience in the profession, since potential employers will basically be relying on the quality of your training. As we have discussed, making sure that the college is accredited is an initial step. Checking with college rating organizations, for example U.S. News and World Report, can verify the quality of the school as well. An alternative is to contact several Fort Wainwright AK medical organizations that you might be interested in working for and ask which colleges they recommend. Remember that even when the school itself does not have an outstanding reputation, its medical billing and coding program may still be highly regarded.
Is there an Employment Assistance Program? Obtaining employment in Fort Wainwright AK after graduating in your new field may be difficult without the support of a job placement program. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is an excellent indication that the coding and billing school has a considerable network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also indicates that the school’s graduates are sought after in the marketplace.
Where is the School Located? If you are intending on commuting to class from your Fort Wainwright AK home, then the location of the college will be of significant importance. Of course if you choose an medical coding and billing online program, then the location of the college will not be important. One thing to remember is that if you attend classes at a junior or community college, many require a higher tuition for enrollees that live outside of their districts. So you might prefer to first consider those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Overall Cost? Medical coding and billing training courses can differ in cost depending on the type of credential obtained and the length of training furnished. But remember, tuition is not the only cost of your education. Costs also include such items as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset a portion of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the college’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Fort Wainwright AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online college, a portion of these additional costs, such as for commuting may be minimized or even eliminated.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? A number of students keep working while going to college and require a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fort Wainwright AK, confirm that they are available at those times. If you can only enroll on a part time schedule, check that the college you select provides that option. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Medical Coding Courses Online Fort Wainwright AK
Selecting the right medical billing and coding degree or certificate course is a critical initial step to help assure your success in this rewarding sector of medical care. Medical coding and medical billing are 2 of the most rapidly growing professions in the health industry. As a result, there are numerous trade schools, junior colleges and other institutions that furnish education and training in medical billing and coding. You originally came to our website because you had an interest in Medical Coding Courses Online and wanted more information on the topic Medical Coding Online Training. However, as we have discussed, you can choose to attend classes either online or on campus. It’s also essential that the school you select has an accredited program with an outstanding reputation within the medical care community. But however you decide to receive your education, by following the previous guidelines and asking the right questions, you will be better able to evaluate your options and select the ideal medical billing and coding college. And with the proper training, you can achieve your career goal to become a medical billing and coding specialist in Fort Wainwright AK.
Other Locations Billed in Alaska
Fort Wainwright is a United States Army post adjacent to Fairbanks in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Fairbanks, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. Since 1978 Fort Wainwright has been investigating and cleaning up soil and water contamination from a landfill and drum burial site, fuel terminal, coal storage yard/fire training pits, open detonation area and underground storage tanks. It was Superfund-listed in 1990.
Ft. Wainwright was first established in 1939 as the U.S. Army Air Corps Ladd Field. In 1947 it was transferred to the newly established U.S. Air Force and renamed Ladd AFB, serving as a cold weather station to test aircraft under arctic conditions. In 1961 it was transferred to the Army and redesignated Fort Wainwright in honor of World War II general Jonathan Wainwright. From 1963 to 1972 it was home to the 171st Infantry Brigade, mechanized until 1969, then light. During that time, the 172nd Infantry Brigade was at Fort Richardson, in Anchorage. From 1986 to 1998 Fort Wainwright was the home of the 6th Infantry Division (Light), and served as the division's headquarters from 1990 to 1994. From 1998 to 2006, it was home to the 172nd Infantry Brigade, which was reorganized in 2003 as the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), part of the U.S. Army's transition program to include six SBCTs. In 2006, the 172nd was re-flagged as the 1st brigade of the 25th Infantry Division. Fort Wainwright was also the home of Task Force 49, an aviation brigade that provides logistical air support for U.S. Army Alaska which later transformed to become a part of 16th Combat Aviation Brigade with headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA in 2010 with duty in Alaska.
Since 1978 Fort Wainwright has been participating in the Department of Defense Installation Restoration Program to investigate and clean up contamination. In 1985 and 1986, lead and chromium were detected in monitoring wells at the landfill; in 1987, chromium and tetrahydrofuran were detected in monitoring wells at the proposed housing area, and chromium was detected in soil. About 15,000 people live and work at the fort and obtain drinking water from wells in close proximity to contaminated source areas. The Chena River also runs through the contaminated area of Fort Wainwright.