To improve price transparency, all U.S. hospitals and health systems are required to provide lists of standard hospital charges – also called a chargemaster – so patients can compare prices across hospitals. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you view the list of standard charges (chargemaster).
These charges are rarely the price that patients pay. The chargemaster lists the dollar amount set for each service prior to insurance contract/benefit plan discounts or self-pay discounts being applied, so the price patients pay tends to be less than the standard charge. Hospital charges differ from patient to patient for the same service depending upon variations in treatment. Patients who are eligible for financial assistance also receive additional discounts.
Items included in a charge vary across hospital systems. For example, what’s included in one hospital’s charge for room and board may differ from other hospital’s charge – some hospitals bundle services together into a single charge that others may list separately.
Looking at various hospital charges does not provide any indication of quality of service and outcomes.
Average Charges by Type of Patient Group
All hospitals and health systems also are required to provide a listing of average charges by types of patient groups, referred to as MS-DRGs (Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Groups). Patients can view similar listings posted by different hospitals, which provide a more direct comparison of charges than the standard charges in the chargemaster. View the list of average charges by type of patient group (MS-DRGs).