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Price Cost and Transparency

Dickinson County Healthcare System (DCH) is committed to complete transparency of your healthcare costs. 

The DCH “chargemaster” is a list of charges for every inpatient and outpatient service provided by a hospital – each test, exam, surgery or other procedures, room charges, etc. The price list is the starting point from which the price that is ultimately paid is determined.

DCH supports the intent of the Government mandate to share pricing to educate patients on the cost of health care and patient financial responsibilities.  For specific information about the amount you will owe for the services you receive, please contact our patient financial services staff at (906) 776-5657. More information is available on our website regarding financial assistance information.

Please click on the following link to access a comparative list of hospital pricing: 

Hospital List of Standard Charges 

The best way for any patient to get meaningful price information is to contact the hospital with their specific treatment needs. Every patient, and every patient’s needs and complications, is different and requires individual attention.

  • Healthcare billing, costs, and charges are very complex. Much of hospitals’ costs are for employees’ wages and benefits. The price a patient sees on a hospital bill reflects the people who care for them and otherwise work in the hospital, not just the services, goods, or medications provided. Hospitals recognize that more needs to be done to simplify the billing process for patients.
     
  • Because of widespread variation in health insurance coverage, it is difficult for hospitals to provide patient-specific out-of-pocket cost information without access to very detailed information about a patient’s health insurance coverage.

What is a “chargemaster?”

  • A chargemaster is a comprehensive list of charges for every inpatient and outpatient service provided by a hospital – each test, exam, surgery or other procedures, room charges, etc. In other words, it is the starting point from which the price that is ultimately paid is determined.
     
  • Given the broad scope of services provided by hospitals 24/7, a chargemaster contains thousands of services and charges.
     
  • An individual hospital’s charges vary based on its unique range of services, adoption of new medical technologies, government underfunding, patient demographics and other local and regional factors.
     
  • Health insurance companies contract with hospitals to care for their customers. Hospitals are typically paid contracted rates by insurance companies, which generally are less than the amount listed on the chargemaster. Therefore, chargemaster amounts are rarely billed to a patient or received as payment by a hospital. Hospitals are committed to providing price information to consumers.

How is Information Shared with Patients and Families?

  • The chargemaster is not a useful tool for consumers who are comparison shopping between hospitals.
     
  • A hospital has financial counselors, patient advocacy, and other resources to help our patients understand their unique financial obligations. We encourage patients to reach out and ask detailed financial questions – especially before scheduled services. The hospital’s financial counselors can review options for charity care, payment plans, discounts and more.
     
  • People should not try to determine specific out-of-pocket costs for a particular service based on a chargemaster. If a person has health insurance, they should first turn to their own insurance company for co-pay, coinsurance and deductible information. If uninsured, they should contact the hospital’s financial counselors to discuss their personal treatment needs and get an estimated cost of care.
     
  • In situations where a patient does not have insurance, patients may be eligible for free or reduced-cost healthcare services through various state public assistance programs like the Healthy Michigan plan, as well as the hospital financial assistance programs. Most hospitals have staff who specialize in helping a patient apply for and enroll in Medicaid programs and the Healthy Michigan Plan.

Patients are encouraged to use out-of-pocket cost, quality, and patient safety information together to make an informed healthcare purchasing decision. Hospital-specific quality and patient safety information is publicly available at www.verifymicare.org.

Hospital costs for patients vary for a number of reasons.

  • Every patient’s case is unique and requires varying levels of care and specific caregivers making no two patient experiences, even for the same services.
     
  • The price a patient sees on their hospital bill reflects not just the specific care team who treated them, but also overall operational costs that keep the hospital running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
     
  • Each hospital’s cost and charge structure vary for a variety of reasons including patient complexity; types of services offered; local labor cost; supply and equipment cost; buildings, utility, and maintenance cost; community service programs offered; and other factors.
     
  • Hospitals provide services to meet individual patient needs 24/7/365, provide free or discounted care to low-income patients, and are paid less than the cost for services provided to patients covered by governmental insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

For more information or to answer questions you may have about the cost of services, please contact our patient financial services staff at (906) 776-5657. More information is available on our website Financial Assistance Information here.