What is the Hospital Chargemaster?
A hospital chargemaster is a comprehensive list of all the billable services and items provided by a hospital. The chargemaster captures the costs of each procedure, service, supply, prescription drug, and diagnostic test provided at the hospital, as well as any fees associated with services, such as equipment fees and room charges. Because hospitals operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a chargemaster can contain 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 MassHealth. In most circumstances, the chargemaster rates are not reflective of the actual payment to the hospital. These payers then apply their reimbursement terms or contracted rates to the services that are billed. If a patient co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible is owed, these too are most often not based on chargemaster amounts but rather the payment terms determined by the insurer or government program.
Costs vary among healthcare providers based on several factors including whether they are an academic medical center, a teaching hospitals, a community service provider and other factors.
Lowell General Hospital and Circle Health provide specific cost estimates for patients.
You can find more information on our financial assistance policies or speak to a financial counselor at 978-937-6700, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
View our charge description master and pricing
View our average charges by diagnosis related group (DRG)
Frequently Asked Questions
In situations where a patient does not have insurance, patients may be eligible for free or reduced cost of health care services through various state public assistance programs as well as the hospital financial assistance programs (including but not limited to MassHealth, the premium assistance payment program operated by the Health Connector, the Children’s Medical Security Program, the Health Safety Net, and Medical Hardship). Such programs are intended to assist low-income patients taking into account each individual’s ability to contribute to the cost of his or her care. For those individuals that are uninsured or underinsured, the hospital will, when requested, help them with applying for either coverage through public assistance programs or hospital financial assistance programs that may cover all or some of their unpaid hospital bills. You can find more information on our financial assistance policies or speak to a financial counselor at 978-937-6700, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
For a subset of services, Lowell General Hospital does not have a standard charge and these services are instead charged dynamically at the time of service based on current cost for pharmaceuticals and supplies.
The hospital’s chargemaster may not include charges for services provided by the 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.
The following provides a list of providers who may send a separate bill for any services provided in the hospital:
- Your personal doctor, if he/she sees you in the hospital;
- The surgeon who performs your procedure;
- The anesthesiologist who works with the surgeon;
- The radiologist who reads your x-rays or other imaging;
- The pathologist who examines your specimen or biopsy;
- Emergency room physicians; and/or
- Other doctors who may be consulted by your doctor during your time in the hospital.
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 but not limited to:
- 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; and/or
- Other health conditions you may have that may affect your care.
As mentioned above, chargemaster amounts are almost never billed to a patient or received as payment by a hospital.
If you would like more information about what your care might cost you or the hospitals’ financial assistance policy, please contact the Financial Counseling office at 978-937-6700, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Please note that estimates provided are based on the information known at the time of the request. All final charges are dependent on the decisions that were made by your healthcare team during your visit.
Your health plan can also help you 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.