Price Transparency FAQ

How hospital charges are determined

  • Hospitals charge the same amount for any particular service regardless of the source of payment. (Federal law requires that hospitals charge the same prices to all patients as a condition of Medicare participation.)
  • Non-governmental or private (commercial) health plans pay rates that are negotiated between the payer and the hospital through contracts. Patients with insurance will likely see an adjustment reflecting the difference in the hospital's charges and the amount the insurance company has negotiated for services rendered.

Patient Request to View Standard Charges

  • These charges represent the standard charges for diagnosis-related groups. The charge is for care without complications. Actual charges may be different for specific patients due to medical condition, length of time spent in surgery or recovery, necessary specific equipment, supplies or medication, complications requiring unanticipated procedures, or other treatment ordered by the physician.
  • If a patient has health insurance, significant discounts have already been obtained by the insurance company and the patient only needs to pay the deductible, copay and/or coinsurance.
    Patients should contact their health plan directly for their specific financial obligations that aren’t reimbursed by insurance.
  • If a patient does not have health insurance, significant discounts are available that could result in either the care being free or at a greatly reduced price.
  • Contacting the patient financial services office (775) 445-8545 can help determine which discounts can be applied.
  • This charge information does not include the professional services provided by a physician, surgeon, radiologist, anesthesiologist, pathologist, advanced practice nurse or other independent practitioners.
  • This information is not a quote or a guarantee of what the charges will be for a specific patient’s care.
  • Patients will likely receive separate bills for the physicians and other professionals who provided treatment. These physicians may not be participating providers in the same insurance plans and networks as the hospital. As such, there may be greater patient financial responsibility for these services which are not under contract with the health plan.
  • An important component for choosing a healthcare provider is determining quality of care. Information pertaining to the hospital’s quality metrics can be obtained by calling (775) 445-8545. Your doctor can be a helpful resource in choosing where to obtain care. Further Medicare hospital specific quality outcome measures are located on Hospital Compare.
  • A helpful document for further information regarding hospital prices is the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s Understanding Healthcare Prices: A Consumer Guide.

How much will I actually have to pay out of my pocket?

Patient pays:

  • A patient with health insurance needs to pay the deductible, copay and/or coinsurance set by their health plan.
  • The financial obligations could differ depending on whether the hospital or physicians are “out-of-network,” meaning the health plan does not have a contract with them. Contact your insurance company to understand what your financial obligations will be.
  • A patient without health insurance will discuss financial assistance options available that could include either a complete write-off or a substantial reduction of the charges.
  • Please contact us by calling (775) 445-8545 to obtain further information about the discounts available.
  • Health insurance plan pays: Health plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, workers’ compensation, commercial health insurance, etc. do not pay charges. Instead, they pay a set price that has been predetermined or negotiated in advance. The patient only pays the out-of-pocket amounts set by the health plan.
  • If you need help understanding your healthcare bill, please contact us by calling (775) 445-8545.

What do the following health insurance terms mean?

Deductible means the amount the patient needs to pay for healthcare services before the health plan begins to pay. The deductible may not apply to all services.

Copay means a fixed amount (e.g., $20) the patient pays for a covered healthcare service, such as a physician office visit or prescription.

Coinsurance means the percentage the patient pays for a covered health service (e.g., 20% of the bill). This is based on the allowed amount for the service. You pay coinsurance plus any deductibles you owe.

A patient’s specific healthcare plan coverage, including the deductible, copay and coinsurance, varies depending on what plan the patient has. Health plans also have differing networks of hospitals, physicians and other providers that the plan has contracted with. Patients need to contact their health plan for this specific information.

What is the difference between charges, cost and price?

Total charge is the amount set before any discounts. Hospitals are required by the federal government to utilize uniform charges as the starting point for all bills.

The charges are based on what type of care was provided and can differ from patient to patient for similar services, depending on any complications or different treatment provided due to the patient’s health.

Cost: For a hospital, it is the total expense incurred to provide the healthcare. Hospitals have higher costs to provide care than freestanding or retail providers, even for the same type of service. This is because a hospital is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and needs to have everything necessary available to cover any and all emergencies. Non-hospital healthcare providers can choose when to be available and typically would not provide services that would result in losses. A hospital’s cost of services can vary depending on additional factors such as:

  • Types of services it provides since many vital services are provided at a loss, such as trauma, burn, neonatal, psychiatric and others;
  • Providing medical education programs to train physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, again provided at a loss;
  • More patients with significantly higher levels of illness, yet payment doesn’t cover;
  • A disproportionately high number of patients who are on public assistance or uninsured and unable to pay much, if anything, toward the cost of their care.

Total Price is the amount actually paid to a hospital. Hospitals are paid by health plans and/or patients, but the total amount paid is significantly less than the starting charges.

  • Medicare and Medicaid pay hospitals according to a set fee schedule depending on the service provided, much less than the hospital’s total charge and actually less than their costs.
  • Commercial insurers negotiate discounts with hospitals on behalf of their enrollees and pay hospitals at varying discount levels, but much less than starting charges.

How can I use this hospital charge information to compare prices?

Charge information is not necessarily useful for consumers who are “comparison shopping” between hospitals because the descriptions for a particular service could vary from hospital to hospital and what is included in that description. It is difficult to try to independently compare the charges for a procedure at one facility versus another. An actual procedure is comprised of numerous components from several different departments — room and board, laboratory, other diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, therapies, etc.

A patient who has the specific insurance codes for services requested, available from their physician, can better gauge charge estimates across hospitals. Ask your physician to provide the technical name of the procedure that has been recommended as well as the specific ICD and CPT codes for service.

How can I get an estimate for a specific procedure?

If you need an estimate for a specific procedure or operation, please contact the patient financial services office at (775) 445-8545.

Such an estimate will be an average charge for the procedure without complications. A physician or physicians make the determination regarding specific care needed based on 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 same procedure due to underlying medical condition.

Remember, patients with health insurance will only pay the specified deductible, copay and coinsurance amounts established by their health plan. Patients without health insurance or sufficient financial resources may be eligible for significant discounts from charges. Please contact the patient financial services office for further information.

FAQ information was adapted from the Nevada Hospital Association.