Occasionally I receive calls from clients questioning the “facility fee” charged by their physician and, of course, why their healthcare plan did not pay for it.
Earlier this week, NPR’s All Things Considered aired an informative six minute segment (click here to listen) explaining how a Cleveland Ohio Medicare beneficiary’s copayment bill was ten times what she had paid before for the same service. Because the provider “moved our … clinic from an office-based practice to a hospital-based setting” in the same building.
Hospital facility fees aren’t new. Federal regulations have long allowed hospitals to charge patients a fee, on top of the tab for medical services, to help cover the high cost of running a hospital.
What changed is hospitals “rebranding” physician practices and outpatient clinics they have purchased and billing separately for the facility as well as for physician services. That is what has happened with the Cleveland patient interviewed. It’s called “provider-based billing.” And because hospitals that bill Medicare beneficiaries this way must do so for all other patients, facility fees affect patients of all ages.
What are Facility Fees?
- Facility fees are often charged at physician office and clinics that are owned by hospitals to cover the costs of maintaining that facility.
- Facility fees can range from $15 to hundreds of dollars, depending on the service you receive.
Does My Insurance Cover Facility Fees?
- Many insurance plans do not cover facility fees or cover only a portion. Ask your plan’s member service representative whether you have to pay facility fees out of pocket.
What Can I Do to Avoid Facility Fees?
- Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a facility is owned by a hospital. When you call to make an appointment, ask if you will be charged a facility fee.
- Ask the doctor if they practice at a different location that does not charge facility fees.
Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/fees-billing/surprise-hospital-fee-just-for-seeing-a-doctor-facility-fee/
Kaiser Health: https://khn.org/news/fees/
One reply on “Hospital Facility Fees for an Office Visit?”
What I am seeing, as a licensed insurance agent, are the Bill’s being sent to the patient, these Bill’s showing charges for 2 office visits on the same date of service. Clients call me when they don’t understand why they are being charged 2 office visits. We will call the billing dept. The billing department explains one is a facility fee that they can see on their end. It is not spelled out on the patient bill sent by the provider. We typically will then call the insurance company to ask the same question. Again it is something that is seen on the provider and insurance side and is NOT spelled out on the billing sent to the patient. This causes a lot of confusion on the part of the medicare patient. I also think this needs to be shared as an extra cost at the time of the provider visit as it looks to be surprise billing, at least in the eyes of the patient.