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Understanding Hospital Chargemasters
Hospital Chargemasters 101

Learn about hospital chargemasters, how they work, and what they mean for your healthcare costs. Find out how insurance affects your charges and how to get financial assistance if needed. Get expert help and answers to your questions today.

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Chargemasters list hospital charges for services and items
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Insurance and contracted rates affect patient charges
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Factors that can affect total charges for an individual
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Separate charges may come from doctors and other providers
Hospital Based Charges
What is a Chargemaster?

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 here.

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).

Are Charges the Same for Every Patient?

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:

  • How long it takes to perform the service or how long it takes you to recover in the hospital
  • Whether the service or procedure you receive is more or less difficult than expected
  • What kinds of medication you require
  • Whether you experience complications and need additional treatment
  • Other health conditions you may have that may affect your care
Is the Charge the Same as What the Patient Pays?
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.
What is Not Included in the Chargemaster List?

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:

  • Your personal doctor, if he/she sees you in the hospital
  • The Emergency Room physician
  • The surgeon who performs your procedure
  • The hospitalist who may see you in the hospital
  • The anesthesiologist and certified nurse anesthetist who works with the surgeon
  • The radiologist who reads your x-rays or other imaging
  • Other doctors who may be consulted by your doctor during your time in the hospital
  • Laboratory testing
Where Can I Find More Information about Hospital Costs?

If you would like more information about the Chargemaster, what your care will cost, or the hospital’s financial assistance policy, please contact Patient Financial Services 601.553.6850.

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.

A consumer guide to avoiding surprise medical bills jointly prepared by the American Hospital Association, Healthcare Financial Management Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans is also a good resource.

Pricing Transparency
Researching medical costs can be complicated. At Anderson Regional Health System, we're making it easier by offering two unique tools to help you get an accurate estimate of your out-of-pocket expenses for a variety of procedures and services. Whether you have insurance or not, you can get a customized estimate for your care at Anderson Regional Health System.
Patient Cost Estimator
Our new Patient Cost Estimator is a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)-compliant calculating tool that uses our electronic medical records database to give you an estimate of your out-of-pocket costs based on your location, procedure or service, and your specific insurance plan. The Patient Cost Estimator provides costs for a select range of outpatient or inpatient procedures to allow you to compare our costs to other facilities.
About CMS
Disclaimer: Estimates created by Patient Cost Estimator are not guaranteed, and may change due to a number of other factors.
Understanding Hospital "Charges"
A hospital "charge" is not the same as "expected payment." "Charge" is the amount billed for a service. In the vast majority of cases, hospitals are paid considerably less than the billed amount. Because each person's case is different based on that patient's medical condition, a given patient's charge will not necessarily be the same as the average or median charge. Furthermore, the actual amount paid by a patient will depend on that patient's insurance coverage.
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Anderson Regional Health System offers a wide range of medical services, including cancer, cardiac, pediatric, surgical, and trauma care. Our healthcare professionals are committed to improving the lives of those we serve.

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