What questions should you ask before enrolling in a medical coding course?

Let's start by one we hear most often:

How much is too much to pay for a course in medical coding?

Recently we've heard from more and more people who paid huge amounts of money, usually because federal financial assistance was available, got very poor training. They would have been happy to pay those loans back if they had received training that prepared them for credentials exams and/or jobs, but that's not what they got. They got huge loans to pay back with nothing to show for it other than medical terminology and some anatomy. The coding training they got was minimal, at the "Introductory" or possibly the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) level, neither of which is very marketable.

A few weeks ago we talked with a woman who had paid $30,000 for her first medical coding course. She paid $15,000 for her second medical coding course. Finally, she came to us for advice on what to do. She has run out of time and money, and has to pay back those loans. The training didn't get her to the level of training required for credentials exams. She basically paid $45,000 for wasting her time. The Andrews School Medical Coding course costs $4,500, which includes all books and materials. There is a no-interest payment plan as well as several ways to get into the program with down payments as low as $600.

What other questions should you ask before enrolling? Find out what qualifications your coding instructors have. Do they have the credentials you want to get when you're finished with the course? If they don't have those credentials, why would you think they are capable of preparing you for them? If they had the skills needed to sit for the CCS exam, they would have taken that exam. The fact that they haven't means they aren't qualified to teach you. Don't waste your time and money there. Andrews School instructors have a minimum of CPC and CCS credentials plus recent on-the-job coding work experience.

Will I learn from a computerized program? Unfortunately, many schools do, producing graduates who don't know how to code properly. Some courses have little to no contact with actual credentialed coding instructors. Computerized coding instruction often include many mistakes. The students call us to say that even when they know they got the right answer, often they are marked wrong, but there is no instructor to fix the error. When there are questions, the computer can't answer them. The Andrews School Medical Coding course is taught by credentialed instructors.

Other programs teach students using computer assisted programs rather than coding books. Successful credentialed coders have to know to code by the book. Students of those programs often call us to say that they find out after finishing those courses that they weren't eligible to take the CCS exam. The course didn't cover the required material. They tell us that they didn't learn how to code from the books, so even if they were allowed to take the test, they wouldn't pass because they don't know how to code from the books. They didn't study that in school. They now have unmarketable skills and aren't eligible to get the credentials they need to become more marketable. Andrews School graduates cover the right material, the right way. They know how to code at the level required both for credentials exams and those coding tests given to applicants by employers.

The next question is, what credentials does the course you are considering prepare you for? The CCA or Certified Coding Associate is an Introductory credential that means the person holding it is ready to learn to code. They have the fundamentals of medical terminology and anatomy. Now they need an employer who will be generous enough to pay them as the employer spends time, money, and effort teaching them to code. That is unacceptable to most employers. They are too busy to teach those with basic introductory skills how to code. You want a course that consistently produces graduates who can pass the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam through AHIMA as well as the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) through AAPC, which is a credential focused on medical coding in physician office settings. Medical coding graduates who have both have greatly increased their potential job options. Andrews School graduates consistently take and pass both the CPC and CCS exams.

Next, ask if there are additional charges if "life gets in the way" and you require extra time. Are books and materials included, or do you have to pay for those very expensive code books and textbooks in addition to the coding tuition? Books and materials at The Andrews School are included. At The Andrews School, we use the highest quality books favored by medical coding professionals on the job.