What’s the Difference Between An Associate Degree in Health Administration and An Associate Degree in Billing and Coding?

Within the ever growing health care industry, you may be looking for a time and cost-effective way to train for some of the many jobs now available. If you decide that an associate degree is the right path for you, it can be challenging to discern the difference between some of them since they have certain features in common. For instance, what are some of the differences between an associate degree in health administration and one in medical billing and coding?

Health Informatics

Both health administration and medical billing and coding fall under the overarching category of health informatics. That means that training received in either two-year degree will qualify you to work in the health information field. Instead of working to care for patients directly, you will be part of the health information system that tracks information about and concerning patients. If you stop and consider your last visit to a doctor’s office or hospital, you will likely recall working with someone in health information. These important support workers are needed to schedule appointments, document services and medical records, coordinate services in a clinic or office and handle a host of other administrative type details. They help ensure that patient services run smoothly, and they help to free up doctors, physician’s assistants and nurses to spend more time with patients and less time with paperwork.

Health Administration

Someone with an associate degree in health administration may be trained to handle a number of the aforementioned tasks. In general, health administration is considered a broad-based degree that equips you to work in a variety of ways related to health information. This may include work as a medical transcriptionist, a medical administrative assistant or a medical records technician.

A degree in health administration will probably include wide ranging studies involving computer skills, healthcare law, management skills and some work in human anatomy and physiology. All of these skills will help you facilitate better patient care and the smoother delivery of healthcare services.

Medical Billing and Coding

Medical Billers and Coders also work in health information, but they are trained in a much more specific, narrow field. Coders assign numerical codes to patient services and procedures which help determine how much of a service is covered by an insurance provider. Billers utilize that information to send out actual bills to insurance companies and to patients. Since these two activities are clearly closely related, an associate degree in this field will often train you to do both.

Salary and Career Potential

With the broader range of skills learned with a health administration degree, you may find potential for a wider range of jobs if you choose that degree. Entry-level jobs for health administrators tend to earn slightly more than medical billers and coders. If you are looking for a better earning position, especially one that will allow you to save toward further education, that’s certainly something to consider as you look at the relative merits of the two programs.

Jobs in both fields are on the rise. The field of health information is growing in part because of the longer-living baby boomer generation. An associate’s degree in either area may be an excellent first step into a long career.