Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Career and Certification

As a medical coder, you would record diagnosis and treatment data to a patient's medical record in the form of codes. Read on to learn how you can meet the training requirements to become a Certified Coding Associate (CCA). Explore your education options in this field, and get info on the job outlook and salary potential for CCAs. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Coding Associate?

A Certified Coding Associate (CCA) is a medical coding professional who has been certified by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Medical coding is a technical field in the medical industry that involves transcribing medical diagnoses and services and incorporating the information into a patient's medical record. CCAs code medical procedures and diagnoses and transmit the codes through integrated software to health insurance companies or government health programs. Organizations and insurance companies then use the codes to determine what treatment the patient received and how to reimburse the doctor's office, hospital or medical center for the services.

What Training Do I Need?

Medical coding and billing is a practice utilized in the field of health information management (HIM). You could enroll in a certificate program in medical coding or an associate's degree program in health information technology. Both programs include courses in medical coding, as well as cover human anatomy, medical terminology, HIM, reimbursement procedures and computer applications.

How Do I Earn Certification?

Certification is not required for employment as a medical coder, but many businesses prefer hiring CPCs over non-certified medical coders, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although there are other certification bodies that offer certification for medical coders, the AHIMA is the only organization that offers the CCA credential (www.ahima.org). You'll need at least a high school diploma or GED to take the CCA exam. While not required, the AHIMA also recommends that you have six months of professional experience and complete an AHIMA-accredited medical coding certificate program or other approved program.

What Is My Career Outlook?

The BLS reported that jobs for all medical records and health information technicians, including medical coders, are expected to grow 20% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). This is attributed to the increase in the elderly population that will require care and the increased need for hospitals, medical centers and doctor's offices to utilize medical coding software for billing and communication purposes. The median salary for all medical records and health information technicians was $32,350, as of May 2010.

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