- Medical Coding Program Frequently Asked Questions
- Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Frequently Asked Questions
- What does a Medical Coder do?
- How much can I expect to earn?
Why should I choose the NHTI Medical Coding Program?
Our program insures that you have all the necessary skills you need to be prepared for an entry level coding position. You will be prepared to sit for the CCA (Certified Coding Associate) exam upon completion of the program. NHTI utilizes the latest 3-M Coding software to provide you with hands-on experience using one of the most popular electronic coding software packages. Most of all – our program is widely known and respected throughout the State.
Why can’t I just take the coding classes?
It’s important to us that you have all the background skills you need to understand and accurately assign diagnosis and procedure codes. That’s why it’s necessary that you understand disease pathology, medical terminology, medical record content, the various types of reimbursement, filing systems and computer applications.
Am I a certified coder once I complete the NHTI Medical Coding Program?
Our program is a “certificate” program. To become a certified coder you must take a national exam. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has coder certification exams from entry level (CCA) to master level (CCS or CCS-P). You can find more information at www.ahima.org/certification/whycertify
Does the coding program prepare me to take the CCA exam?
Yes and this is another reason that we include courses other than coding in our Program. The CCA exam includes more than coding questions. You are tested on your overall knowledge of Health Information Management as well as coding.
How many people from the NHTI Program pass the CCA exam?
We don’t have any actual data. Program faculty hear from students who have sat for the exam and also watch the AHIMA listing of newly credentialed CCA’s for names of former students. Thus far, we have had an excellent success rate, with passing scores on the first try.
Do you offer job placement?
Not formally. However, students can search for medical coding employment opportunities through the NHTI Job Board at https://www.collegecentral.com/nhti/
In addition, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers networking opportunities through their Engage online communities. NHHIMA also offers a mentoring program and a job board. www.nhhima.org
Is the coding program offered as a 100% on-line program?
Yes. Some first year courses may be taken in the classroom depending on scheduling.
I still have questions about the Coding Program, who do I contact?
You may email Amy Liptak, Program Department Head at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s important to us that our students are well prepared for a coding career.
Your success is our success.
Why has AHIMA created this credential?
AHIMA recognizes that the demand for coders has never been greater-and this need is expected to continue for some years to come. By creating an entry-level coding credential based on job analysis standards and state-of-the-art test construction, AHIMA aims to increase the number of qualified new coders. The result? A larger pool of qualified coders for employers to choose from; certified coders doing a better job managing health information; and recognition for AHIMA members as industry experts and leaders in clinical coding.
Why does a new coder need the CCA?
New coders who earn the CCA will immediately demonstrate their competency in the field, even if they don't have much job experience. Earning a CCA demonstrates a commitment to coding even for those who are new in the field. CCA holders will also distinguish themselves from non-credentialed coders and those who hold credentials from other organizations that do not require the higher level of expertise necessary to earn AHIMA certification.
How does the CCA compare to the CCS and CCS-P?
The CCA should be viewed as the starting point for an individual entering a new career as a coder. The CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) and/or CCS-P (Certified Coding Specialist-Physician Office) exams demonstrate the mastery level skills that the CCA would strive for to advance his or her career.
How does the CCA compare to the RHIA and RHIT credential?
CCA holders will have demonstrated only their knowledge related to coding. In contrast, RHIA or RHIT holders (who must hold a baccalaureate or associate degree, respectively) have demonstrated their expertise in a full range of HIM areas-from data management, privacy, compliance, and other supervisory and managerial roles-as well as coding.
How do I find out more information about the CCA and other credentials?
For more information about the CCA credential, Health Information Management and coding as a career choice visit AHIMA at www.ahima.org/careers and www.ahima.org/certification
What does a Medical Coder Do?
Medical coders review inpatient and outpatient records and assign codes to diagnoses and treatment procedures performed so the facility or physician’s office can bill insurance and other third-party payers (such as Medicare or Medicaid) as well as the patient. Most of Coders work on-site for hospitals, clinics, physicians, and a variety of other healthcare facilities. Working remotely from home is an opportunity for coders after they have successfully worked in a hospital or other healthcare setting and gained the skills necessary to work without supervision. Inaccurate or incomplete coding can cost the average doctor thousands of dollars per year in lost payments. Competent coders help health care organizations avoid lost revenue.
Coders interact with physicians, both coding and billing staff, and with different levels of administrative staff and management throughout the healthcare system. Skills used by coders include computer skills; communication skills; coding and auditing skills. Alternate job titles for medical coders include certified coder, and coding specialist. Related job titles include coding manager, coding trainer, health information manager, DRG (Diagnosis Related Groupings) validator, clinical documentation specialist, quality manager, utilization and revenue manager and health information technician.
Certification, experience and location are three main factors that determine an individual’s earnings as a medical coder. If you have at least 2 of the three factors in your favor, your earning potential will increase significantly.
According to the website, medicalcodingworld.com, nationwide salary averages range from $34,000 in smaller cities to as much as $62,000 in larger metropolitan areas. Average hourly rates range between $16-19 per hour for coders with certifications. With 5-7 years of experience as a physician coder or hospital code, average hourly pay rates go up to $19-29 per hour. The highest per hour pay ($30.00+ per hour) is typically reserved for specialty coders in areas such as Rheumatology or Neuropsychiatry.
According to AAPC (The American Academy of Professional Coders), the average salary for coding/billing staff in 2014 nationwide was $41,624. Be aware that this includes varied levels of experience, varied locations and coders with/without certifications.
2014 Salary Survey Report AAPC: http://cloud.aapc.com/documents/AAPC-2014-Salary-Survey.pdf