The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Aug. 2, 2018, published its final inpatient prospective payment system, or IPPS, rule (see pages 2135-2142) for federal fiscal year 2019. The IPPS rule contains a transparency provision that will be effective Jan. 1, 2019. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included a requirement for all hospitals to establish, update and make public a list of the hospital’s “standard charges” for items and services provided by the hospital, including for Diagnosis Related Groups, DRGs. This information is to be made available each year. CMS, in the 2015 final rule issued guidelines for how hospitals should comply with this requirement, including the following two options:
In the 2015 rule, CMS indicated hospitals could satisfy the ACA requirement by posting information on the internet, but did not make that method a requirement, concluding that, “hospitals are in the best position to determine the exact manner and method by which to make the list public.” CMS also expected hospitals to update the information at least annually, or more frequently if warranted, to reflect current charges.
In its proposed and final 2019 IPPS rules, CMS acknowledged Chargemaster data are “not helpful to patients for determining what they are likely to pay for a particular service or hospital stay.” However, in an effort to continue moving the needle on price transparency, the final rule requires hospitals to make available a list of their current “standard charges” via the internet in a machine-readable format, and to update it at least annually. This requirement can be met in the form of the Chargemaster itself or another form of the hospital’s choice, as long as it is in machine-readable format.
A Chargemaster is a comprehensive list of charges for each inpatient and outpatient service or item provided by a hospital – each test, exam, surgical procedure, room charge, etc. Given the many services provided by hospitals 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a Chargemaster contains thousands of services and related charges. Chargemaster amounts are almost never billed to a patient or received as payment by a hospital. The Chargemaster amounts are billed to an insurance company, Medicare, or Medicaid, and those insurers then apply their contracted rates to the services that are billed. In situations where a patient does not have insurance, our hospital has financial assistance policies that apply discounts to the amounts charged. More information on our financial assistance policies can be found obtained by contacting the hospital financial services department. Health insurance companies contract with hospitals to care for their customers. Hospitals are paid the insurance company’s contract rate, which generally is significantly less than the amount listed on the Chargemaster. The insurance company’s contract rate, not the Chargemaster, is the basis for determining the patient’s actual out of pocket costs. As an example, a hospital may charge $1,000 for a particular service, while the insurer’s contract rate may be $700. If the patient’s insurance plan indicates the patient is responsible for 20 percent of the contract rate, the patient would owe $140 ($700 x 20 percent).
The list of charges is the same for all patients. However, the total charges for an individual patient often vary from one patient to another for a number of reasons, including:
Chargemaster information is not particularly helpful for patients to estimate what health care services are going to cost them out of their own pocket. The charge listed in the Chargemaster is generally not the amount a patient will pay. If you have health insurance, the amount you will be billed and expected to pay for your services depends on your specific health insurance coverage and your insurance company’s contract with the hospital. If you do not have health insurance, you may be eligible for reduced costs under the hospital’s financial assistance policy, or you may be eligible for Medicaid coverage.
The hospital’s Chargemaster does not include charges for services provided by the doctor (or doctors) who treat you while you are at the hospital. You may receive separate bills from the hospital and the doctors involved in your care. Here is a partial list of health care providers who may bill you separately:
If you would like more information about the Chargemaster, what your care will cost you or the hospital’s financial assistance policy, please contact the hospital financial services department. Please consult with your insurance provider to understand your insurance coverage, which charges will be covered, how much you will be billed, information on deductibles, and your expected out-of-pocket responsibility.
The information provided below is a comprehensive list of charges for each inpatient and outpatient service or item provided by our hospital, also known as a Chargemaster. It is not a helpful tool for patients to comparison shop between hospitals or to estimate what health care services are going to cost them out of their own pocket. Patients should contact their medical insurance provider to get further details about the possible cost of their care, including healthcare providers in and out of network and services covered. Patients should also talk with their insurance provider to understand which costs will be covered by insurance and which will be the patient’s responsibility. Patients without medical coverage may obtain our hospital’s financial assistance policy by contacting the financial services department of our hospital. For more information about the cost of your care, please contact our patient financial services department in our Business Office.
The amount listed for each service in the Chargemaster is not necessarily reflective of your actual financial responsibility. We recommend that patients contact their insurer or our hospital Business Office to discuss their individual situations and determine the potential out of pocket cost of their care. Our Business Office can be reached at 318-371-2553.
CLICK HERE for more Chargemaster information.
Chargemaster last revision: January 1, 2021
Minden Medical Center
#1 Medical Plaza