Understanding Hospital Charges & Costs (To You)

What Is a Chargemaster?

A chargemaster is a comprehensive list of what can be charged/billed for services provided by a hospital, both for patients that stay overnight and those who don’t. Charges are set by the individual hospital, and, therefore, vary from hospital to hospital.  Given the broad scope of services provided by hospitals, a chargemaster contains thousands of different charges.  For example, there is a separate charge for a radiology procedure, an emergency room visit, and specific lab work – even if those services are provided during the same visit.  Because a chargemaster is a list of what can be charged for, it is not a helpful tool for you (the patient) to comparison shop between hospitals for services (as you don’t always know what services you will require during a hospital visit) or to estimate what health care services are going to cost out of your own pocket as charges and cost to you are not one and the same.

Why Can Charges Vary by Patient?

Hospital charges are based on many factors, such as the number of staff members that may be involved with your care, drug/supply costs, the equipment used, as well as the differences in care required to meet your needs. Charges for you, for instance, may differ greatly than for another patient based on your actual use of services within a hospital.  The factors affecting that use can include the following:

  • 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

You are an individual with individual needs, so, from a hospital charge perspective, one “size” does not fit all.  You are unique!

Why are Charges Not a Good Indicator of the Cost to Me?

Because of differences in health insurance coverage, it is difficult for hospitals to provide specific out-of-pocket costs to you without knowing very detailed information about your health insurance coverage and the specific services you will require.  Most patients are covered by either private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Northern Hospital receives payments from private health insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, based on “allowable” reimbursements. If you have health insurance, the allowable reimbursement is what must be paid for treatment based on your specific insurance plan and coverage. Depending on your health insurance benefit policy, you may be responsible for paying a portion (or all) of that allowable reimbursement (i.e. your “out-of-pocket” cost).

What Information is Available to Me About Northern Hospital Charges?

On the Northern Hospital website, there are several charge listings available to you that include the following:  

 

Based on the information highlighted above and our own experience, we believe the 1st four charge related listings will be the most helpful to you.  But, feel free to review all listings.

Are There Others Who I Might Receive a Bill From if I Receive Services at Northern Hospital?

You will receive separate bills, apart from a Northern Hospital bill, for any physicians that helped in providing care during your service and or if you were transported by ambulance.  The list of physicians may include the following: Emergency Department Physicians, Anesthesiologist/CRNA, Radiologist, Pathologist, Hospitalists (doctors that only see patients who are in the hospital), and any other physician who sees you while you are at Northern.  If you have any questions regarding those bills, please see the contact information below.

Hospitalists of Mount Airy 1-800-899-5757
Carolina Anesthesia Group, PLLC  1-877-350-3511
Triad Radiological Associates 1-800-889-4447
Pathology Diagnostic Services  1-877-268-0376
Mount Airy Emergency Physicians   1-888-311-8760
Surry County EMS 1-336-783-9000
Northern Medical Group 1-336-719-7187 or
  1-336-719-7186

For more information about the cost to you for your care at Northern Hospital, please contact our Patient Financial Services staff at 336-719-7458 or 336-719-7459.  We are here to serve you any way we can. 
 
                                     
                             
                                                          

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