When researching online medical billing and coding schools, one of the first things you’ll notice is that some require payment (offered through accredited schools), whereas others are free Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Initially, it may seem appealing to opt for the MOOC, but it is important to remember that free always comes at a cost. Here are the main points of comparison for the two options.
Level of Difficulty
MOOCs are often simplified versions of the actual courses offered by trade schools and colleges. In these cases, the fact that they are easier to pass is actually a disadvantage — although you may be able to graduate from a program without difficulty, you will lack some of the essential skills and knowledge that jobs require.
Many MOOCs offer a statement of accomplishment or some sort of recognition at the end of course, but this is of little value when looking for a job. Employers want to see that candidates are qualified as Certified Billing and Coding Specialists (CBCS), Medical Administrative Assistants (CMAA) or Electronic Health Records Specialists (EHRS) or that they hold a similar certification. After a free course, students lack the knowledge needed to pass the related examinations.
Access to Educational Support
Even when studying fully online, through an accredited course you will make frequent contact with your instructor and possibly other students. A faculty member will be able to answer your questions, provide you with support for assignments, and provide you with feedback on your assessments. As MOOCs involve so many students, it is impossible to receive individual attention on any sort of meaningful level. If you have problems or queries, you will have to struggle through them alone.
Risk of Scam Operations
With free programs, you run the risk of learning the incorrect information, facing unexpected fees, and receiving training from a instructor with limited knowledge on billing and coding. With accredited courses, on the other hand, you can always be sure that you are receiving a quality education from experts in the field.
Motivation to Complete the Course
A final issue is your own willingness to graduate. If you are paying for a course, you have a greater incentive to work hard, to graduate and pass your exams. With a MOOC, it is far easier to lose motivation and end up dropping the course having achieved nothing.
It should be obvious by now that, if you are serious about becoming a medical coding specialist, online medical billing and coding schools are a better option than free courses. In such a competitive field, employers are always going to favor students from accredited schools over those who have taken MOOCs.