Medical billing and coding is an in-demand and rapidly growing career field. Professionals in this industry can work for a variety of employers including hospitals, private practices, research firms, insurance companies, and more. Earning a medical billing and coding certification is required for most jobs in the field, but there are several exam options to consider. Which one best fits you? Learn the pros and cons of each and how to make the best decision for your career.
Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Exam
The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is the most common certification students pursue. That’s because of the concentrations and features of the exam process. CPC concentrates on outpatient coding and teaches students how to assign diagnoses, procedures, and medical codes for an array of clinical services and cases. Since most entry-level medical coding and billing professionals begin their career in outpatient coding, this concentration makes the CPC an ideal choice. The AAPC offers a free exam retake, and many students participate in their local AAPC chapters. There are requirements for taking the CPC. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) Exam
The Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) certification offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) concentrates on medical billing and coding specifically for insurance claims. It teaches students how to translate various medical procedures, diagnoses, and symptoms into the corresponding codes needed to file a reimbursement claim. While the CBCS may not be as versatile as the CPC, it is ideal for students pursuing a medical billing and coding career in the insurance industry. CBCS applicants also much be 18 years of age or older and hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Exam
The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) certification offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) provides all-around coding instruction across various settings including hospitals and physicians. This medical coding and billing certification teaches students coding procedures for recordkeeping, compliance, and confidentiality. Because the CCA exam has no age requirement, students who graduate high school or earn a high school diploma equivalent before the age of 18 can take the exam.
The Differences Between the CPC, CBCS & CCA
Employers don't typically prefer one medical billing and coding certification over another. The CPC and CCA are very versatile certifications that can be applied across multiple settings, while the CBCS may be more attractive to employers in the insurance industry. All three exams require a high school diploma or HSE, with the CPC and CBCS requiring a minimum age of 18. All three are excellent starting points for students who eventually want to pursue a career in inpatient coding. An academic advisor or career counselor can provide more information on these certifications and help you choose the one that best aligns with your career goals.
One thing to consider when selecting Medical Coding & Billing programs is you school of choice. Some institutions design their coursework to help you perform best on a specific exam. While Penn Foster considers the CPC to be the gold standard of certification in physician office settings, you are eligible to sit for any exam.
While the medical coding and billing certification exam you choose to take should be based on your future career goals, any certification has the opportunity to lead to a rewarding career. Visit Penn Foster to learn more and explore an array of accredited online programs to get your future started today.