Hospital based Urgent Care Facility Fees – how to be an educated healthcare consumer
All urgent cares do not charge the same, especially those that are affiliated with hospitals. While Five Star Urgent Care does not charge expensive facility fees, many hospital-owned urgent care centers do. Hospitals run about 26 percent of urgent care centers nationwide. Patients of some of these hospital-owned centers are often surprised when they get their bill and see that they were billed as an ER visit or charged a facility fee.
What exactly is a “facility fee”?
A facility fee is a charged to the patient by the hospital in addition to the doctor’s fees. For example, if you see a doctor at a hospital’s urgent care for bronchitis, you expect to pay the doctor’s bill, just like you would if you saw a doctor at a private urgent care center. However, hospitals can also charge a separate fee, if they choose. This is known as a facility fee. In urgent care medicine, these facility fees typically average $175. This fee is in addition to the doctor’s bill.
Patients have begun to fight facility fees, and some state legislators have proposed bans. Unfortunately, none have become law. These fees can add hundreds of dollars to a patient’s bill. This adds out-of-pocket costs for those who have an increasingly common, high-deductible insurance plan, which requires a patient to pay $1,000 or more toward their medical bills before their coverage kicks in.
What can you do about it?
Determine if the urgent care center you are considering utilizing is owned by a hospital. Then, call and ask if they charge a facility fee in addition to the doctor’s bill. You can check their website, but the information may not be there. We find that it’s best to call and ask if they charge the fee. If the receptionist is unsure, ask to be connected to their billing office.