What Is a Certified Coding Associate (CCA)?

CCA is a professional designation offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) for health information technicians specializing in medical coding, though it also refers to a career title. Read on to find out about education, certification, and career information about medical coders with the CCA designation. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

As a medical coder, you are responsible for reviewing patients' medical records and applying codes based on diagnosis and treatment to any pertinent information for reimbursement and research purposes. You may also be responsible for maintaining medical records. You need to be aware of how to code specific medical procedures and diagnoses using one or more industry-standard coding systems.

Coding systems allow healthcare providers to easily ascertain how much they can expect to be reimbursed through a patient's insurance provider. They also expedite monitoring of healthcare outcomes and incidence of certain medical conditions, treatments, or similar factors. The certified coding associate (CCA) designation labels you as an entry-level medical coder with basic coding competencies qualified to work in a physician's office, hospital, or other medical setting.

Educational Requirements

Eligibility requirements for the CCA exam include the possession of a high school diploma. Six months of professional medical coding experience is preferred; however, some postsecondary education may be substituted. Certificate programs are available that provide the education necessary to pass the CCA exam. They can range from a single 10-week course to a multiple-semester program consisting of several classes and a clinical experience requirement.

You will learn about the standard coding systems commonly used in medical offices and how to use them to process insurance claims. You will also become acquainted with some pathophysiology and pharmacology knowledge, basic medical science, and medical terminology, which is required to competently perform your job. Relevant legal issues, professional ethics, and patient confidentiality are also commonly discussed in these programs.

Certification Information

You can become a CCA by passing the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA, www.ahima.org) exam. The CCA designation is the entry level of certification offered by AHIMA for medical coders. AHIMA also offers the certified coding specialist designation, which is for advanced medical coders with additional professional experience. The CCA exam consists of 100 multiple-choice items and tests your knowledge of clinical classification systems, reimbursement methodologies, and several other essential areas of medical coding information. To maintain your CCA designation, you need to complete at least 20 continuing education credits every two years, including two annual coding self-assessments.

Employment and Salary Statistics

In April 2014, PayScale.com reported that people possessing the CCA certification were employed under job titles such as medical records coder, medical billing manager, and health information technician. PayScale.com also reported in April 2014 that most CCAs earned salaries ranging between $22,765 and $40,231 at that time. The median annual salary earned by medical records coders in general was reported by PayScale.com as $35,860, while certified medical billing/coding specialists earned a median of $35,174. The median annual salary for a registered health information technician was $35,016.

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