Frequently Asked Questions About Chargemaster
Read these frequently asked questions — and answers — about Chargemaster.
- What is a Charge Description Master (CDM) and what is it used for?
- Are the charges for everything in the CDM?
- How should I use this document for "cost comparison"?
- With whom in your organization can I discuss Chargemaster questions?
- How are your charges determined?
- Where can I see the cost for each charge in your CDM?
- Why can't I have a copy of your CDM?
- Can I talk to you about getting my bill lowered?
- Whom can I talk to about questions I have about charges on my bill?
- Who can tell me how much a procedure costs in your facility?
What is a Charge Description Master (CDM) and what is it used for?
A CDM, also known as a "chargemaster," is a hospital-specific comprehensive listing of the items that can be billed by the hospital to a payer, patient or facility. The CDM is a complex, technical internal financial. The itemized billing descriptions were developed to meet government and health plan parameters.
Are the charges for everything in the CDM?
Almost all of this hospital's charges are included in the CDM. However, there are some additional databases that exist outside the CDM to allow for some technical calculations to be performed when entering a price onto a patient's statement. Pharmacy is one example. Since all pharmacy charges are not calculated until the drug and dose are ordered, the actual charge is not developed until the medication is dispensed. Other items that may not be found are custom items or new technologies.
How should I use this document for "cost comparison"?
The CDM is not necessarily a useful document for consumers who are "comparison shopping" between competing hospitals because the descriptions for a particular service could vary from hospital to hospital. Procedure charges may be comprised of several separate line items that are not necessarily in the same department. It is very difficult to try to independently compare the charges for a procedure at one facility vs. another.
If you need an estimate for a specific procedure, please have your physician contact the hospital with the information, and our financial counselors will work with you and your physician to develop and estimate for the service.
With whom in your organization can I discuss Chargemaster questions?
At Sharp, we have arranged for two methods to submit a question:
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Send a written inquiry to:
Attn: Hospital Chargemaster Specialist
8695 Spectrum Center Blvd., 3rd Floor, ICD
San Diego, CA 92123
- Sharp HealthCare
How are your charges determined?
Charges are based on our overall mix of services and costs. Specific cost factors affecting our charges include labor costs, facility and facility improvement costs, current and projected technology expenses, the competitive marketplace and the number of uninsured patients treated by this hospital.
Where can I see the cost for each charge in your CDM?
Sharp HealthCare's CDM does not include cost information.
Hospitals file information regarding average costs with California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and required cost reports in connection with both the Medicare and Medi-Cal programs.
Why can't I have a copy of your CDM?
Sharp HealthCare is making a copy of its CDM available in the manner required by law. We will not be printing and binding copies for distribution.
As you can see, the CDM is a complex and lengthy document. Viewed in isolation, the CDM itself will not provide consumers with a true picture of charges associated with a hospital stay or procedure. In fact, it will probably be more of a source of frustration.
We hope that making the CDM available for home viewing via the Internet, will encourage visitors who have questions about the charge for a particular procedure to discuss the charge with our representatives.
Can I talk to you about getting my bill lowered?
We continue to offer one-on-one financial counseling to explore a consumer's best options for addressing his/her hospital bill. This could include a discounted bill, assistance with health coverage or other options. If you do not have health coverage, we urge you to talk with our financial counselors at the hospital where your procedure is scheduled.
Whom can I talk to about questions I have about charges on my bill?
If you have questions regarding the charge accuracy of your bill, please contact our customer service unit at 858-499-2400. Should your bill require a charge audit, we have audit nurses that can verify the accuracy of the billed service with your medical record. At Sharp, our primary concern is ensuring the accuracy of your bill.
Who can tell me how much a procedure costs in your facility?
An actual procedure is comprised of numerous components from several different departments — room and board, laboratory, other diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, implants, therapies, etc. A physician or physicians make these determinations on individual considerations using the patient's diagnosis, general health condition and many other factors.
For example, one individual may require only a one-day hospital stay for a particular procedure, while another may require a two-day stay for the exact same procedure.
If you need an estimate for a specific procedure, please have your physician contact the hospital with the information and our financial counselors will work with you and your physician to develop and estimate for the service.