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Certified Coding Associate (CCA®) 

Coding professionals who hold the CCA credential have demonstrated coding competency across all settings, including hospitals and physician practices. 

Since 2002, the CCA designation has been a nationally recognized standard of achievement in the health information management (HIM) field. 

CCAs: 

  • Exhibit a level of commitment, competency, and professional capability that is valued by employers. 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the coding profession. 
  • Distinguish themselves from others as having passed AHIMA’s rigorous CCA exam. 

Eligibility Requirements

Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to sit for the CCA examination. 

While not required, at least one of the following is recommended: 

  • 6 months coding experience directly applying codes; 
  • Completion of an AHIMA approved coding program (PCAP Program); 
  • Completion of other coding training program to include anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, basic ICD diagnostic/procedural and basic CPT® coding. 

Apply for the Exam

Apply to take the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam.   

About the CCA Exam

Certified Professionals and Pass Rates 

As of 12/31/19, there were 7,945 certified CCA professionals. 

Year 

Exam 

# First Time Testers 

Pass Rate First Time Testers 

2019* 

CCA 

1,756 

82% 

2018* 

CCA 

1,787 

77% 

2017 

CCA 

2,191 

68% 

*U.S. and Canada results only 

Exam Specifications 

The CCA is a timed exam. Candidates have two hours to complete the exam. The total number of questions on the exam range between 90 and 115 total items. The exam is given in a computer-based format.  

AHIMA exams contain a variety of questions or item types that require you to use your knowledge, skills, and/or experience to select the best answer. Each exam includes scored questions and pre-test questions randomly distributed throughout the exam. Pre-test questions are not counted in the final results. 

The passing score for the CCA is 300. 

Competencies for CCAs fall into six domains. Each domain accounts for a specific percentage of the total questions on the certification exam. See the Exam Content Outline below for greater detail. 

Magnet Recognition Program® designation

The CCA certification is included in the list of national certifications that may be submitted on the Demographic Data Collection Tool (DDCT) as part of the application for the Magnet Recognition Program® designation. Learn more about the accepted certifications on the American Nurses Credentialing Center website.  

Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Exam Content Outline

Tasks:

  1. Interpret healthcare data for code assignment
  2. Incorporate clinical vocabularies and terminologies used in health information systems
  3. Abstract pertinent information from medical records
  4. Consult reference materials to facilitate code assignment
  5. Apply inpatient coding guidelines
  6. Apply outpatient coding guidelines
  7. Apply physician coding guidelines
  8. Assign inpatient codes
  9. Assign outpatient codes
  10. Assign physician codes
  11. Sequence codes according to healthcare setting

Tasks: 

  1. Sequence codes for optimal reimbursement
  2. Link diagnoses and CPT codes according to payer specific guidelines
  3. Assign correct DRG
  4. Assign correct APC
  5. Evaluate NCCI edits
  6. Reconcile NCCI edits
  7. Validate medical necessity using LCD and NCD
  8. Submit claim forms
  9. Communicate with financial departments
  10. Evaluate claim denials
  11. Respond to claim denials
  12. Resubmit denied claim to the payer source
  13. Communicate with the physician to clarify documentation

Tasks: 

  1. Retrieve medical records
  2. Assemble medical records according to healthcare setting
  3. Analyze medical records quantitatively for completeness 
  4. Analyze medical records qualitatively for deficiencies
  5. Perform data abstraction
  6. Request patient-specific documentation from other sources (ancillary depts., physician’s office,etc)
  7. Retrieve patient information from master patient index
  8. Educate providers in regards to health data standards 
  9. Generate reports for data analysis

Tasks: 

  1. Identify discrepancies between coded data and supporting documentation
  2. Validate that codes assigned by provider or electronic systems are supported by proper documentation
  3. Perform ethical coding
  4. Clarify documentation through physician query
  5. Research latest coding changes
  6. Implement latest coding changes
  7. Update fee/charge ticket based on latest coding changes
  8. Educate providers on compliant coding
  9. Assist in preparing the organization for external audits

Tasks: 

  1. Navigate throughout the EHR
  2. Utilize encoding and grouping software
  3. Utilize practice management and HIM systems
  4. Utilize CAC software that automatically assigns codes based on electronic text
  5. Validate the codes assigned by CAC software

Tasks: 

  1. Ensure patient confidentiality
  2. Educate healthcare staff on privacy and confidentiality issues
  3. Recognize and report privacy issues/violations
  4. Maintain a secure work environment
  5. Utilize pass codes
  6. Access only minimal necessary documents/information
  7. Release patient-specific data to authorized individuals
  8. Protect electronic documents through encryption
  9. Transfer electronic documents through secure sites
  10. Retain confidential records appropriately
  11. Destroy confidential records appropriately

Mandatory Code Books

2020 Code Books will be used through 04/30/2021

All exams delivered on or BEFORE 04/30/2021 will be required to have the 2020 code books from the 2020 code book list below. 

2021 Code Books will go into effect on 05/01/2021

All exams delivered on or AFTER 05/01/2021 will be required to have the 2021 code books from the 2021 code book list below.

On test day, all candidates must bring the correct codebooks to the test center. Candidates who do not have the correct codebooks will not be allowed to test and will forfeit their exam fees.

 

 The full list of allowable codebooks can be found in the PDF below.

AHIMA Members get 20% off code books from AHIMA.

Below are the AHIMA code books that are allowable on the day of your certification exam.  

Spiral or Softbound | 2020 Edition

ICD-10-CM Code Book

The ICD-10-CM Code Book, 2020 can be your primary reference to execute the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification.

Softbound | 2020 Edition

ICD-10-PCS Code Book

The ICD-10-PCS Code Book, 2020 can be your primary reference to execute the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Procedure Coding System, specifically in the inpatient setting.

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