If you want to be a medical coder, actually medical coding certification is not a legal requirement to find a job as a medical coder. However, if you have certifications, you will have a bigger chance to be employed and you will earn a better salary compared to those who have not earned a certification.
A number of different certifications are available to achieve by the prospective medical coders. According to the Medical Technology Schools site, the most common are CPC (Certified Professional Coder), CCS ( Certified Coding Specialist), and CMC (Certified Medical Coder).
The Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
In the field of medical coding, the CPC exam is the most popular medical coding certification exam as explained on the Medical Technology Schools site. If you are interested in working in an outpatient setting like a physician’s office or outpatient clinic, this certification can be a good path for you.
This certification is offered by an association namely The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). AAPC is the biggest organization of its kind with more than 170,000 members.
If you want to take the CPC exam, you need to have at least an associate’s degree from an accredited institution. Usually, people who take this exam also have existing experience in the field of medical coding. If you are successful in completing the CPC exam, you need to note that it is not enough to qualify the examinee as a Certified Professional Coder. If you take the exam without getting professional experience in the field, you will get a CPC-A certification where it stands for Certified Professional Coder-Apprentice.
If you want to earn a full CPC, you have to complete at least two years of professional experience and submit two letters of recommendation to the AAPC.
To be able to qualify for the exam, you have to be current members of the AAPC and pay an exam fee. The cost of membership is $80 for active students and if you are a non student, you have to pay $150.
In the CPC exam, there are 150 questions which are divided into 12 distinct sections.
- There are 60 questions about Surgical Procedures.
- There are 10 questions about Evaluation and Management.
- There are 8 questions about Anesthesia.
- There are 10 questions about Radiology.
- There are 10 questions about Pathology and Laboratory.
- There are 10 questions about Medicine.
- There are 8 questions about Medical Terminology.
- There are 8 questions about Anatomy.
- There are 10 questions about ICD-10 volumes 1 and 2.
- There are 5 questions about HCPCS Level II Codes.
- There are 6 questions about Coding Guidelines.
- There are 5 questions about Compliance and Regulation.
If you want to be certified, you have to get an overall score of 70 percent.
The Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
If you want to start your career in medical coding at inpatient facilities, CCS certification is the most popular option. An association named The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers this certification.
If you want to take the CCS exam, you need to have at least a diploma or degree from a medical coding training program, two years of medical coding experience or an existing medical coding certification plus one year of medical coding experience. You also have to be a member of the AHIMA to be able to take this exam. The cost of membership is $175 for uncertified people, and $10 for renewing members.
In the CCS exam, you will have to be able to answer eight main topics as mentioned below.
- Health information documentation
- Diagnosis and procedure coding
- Guidelines and reporting requirements for inpatient services
- Guidelines and reporting requirements for outpatient services
- Data and quality management
- Information technologies
- Privacy, confidentiality, legal, and ethical issues
You will get 68% of the questions about Diagnosis and Procedure Coding.
The Certified Medical Coder (CMC)
If compared with the CPC or CCS certifications, CMC certification is less common. However, it is increasingly recognized as a comparable certification. The Practice Management Institute (PMI) offers this certification.
Before you take the CPC exam, you need to have at least one year of professional experience in medical coding. For inexperienced coders, PMI offers an introductory course named Principles of Coding. Even though preparatory courses are offered by PMI for the CMC exam, the courses are not a prerequisite for taking this exam.
There are 133 questions in the CMC exam and you have to earn a minimum of 70 percent to be certified.
Those are the explanations about CPC, CCS and CMC according to the Medical Technology Schools site. According to Zippia, the best medical coder certification in the first place is Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS). Let’s find the explanation below.
Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) as The Best Medical Coder Certification
According to the Zippia website, the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) is the best medical coder certification and it places in the number one from the 20 best medical coder certifications on that site.
This certification focuses on converting a medical procedure, diagnosis, or symptom into specific codes to submit a claim for reimbursement.
If you want to take this exam, you have to complete a program that includes medical billing and coding training in the last 5 years. You also need to have a high school diploma or GED/ high school equivalent.
This certification is offered by the National Healthcareer Association. According to the Unitek College website, here are the topics in the CBCS exam.
- There are 19 items about Regulatory Compliance.
- There are 28 items about Claims Processing.
- There are 10 items about Front-end Duties.
- There are 23 items about Payment Adjudication.
- There are 20 items about Applying Knowledge of Coding.
According to the Zippia website, here are the 20 best medical coder certifications.
- Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
- Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
- Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
- Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
- Certified Medical Coder (CMC)
- Medical Assistant
- Certified Code Specialist
- Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
- Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA)
- Certified Outpatient Coding (COC)
- Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-based (CCS-P)
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
- Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
- Certified Medical Office Manager (CMOM)
- Certified Medical Insurance Specialist (CMIS)
- Certified Evaluation and Management Coder (CEMC)
- Nationally Certified Insurance and Coding Specialist (NCICS)
- Home Care Coding Specialist – Diagnosis (HCS-D)
- Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS)
- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
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