There are no specific requirements or guidelines for how hospitals determine their charges. This means, one hospital might combine the charges of some items. Another hospital might list each charge separately. Neither approach is right or wrong. Both comply with the federal rule. They are just different ways of showing the charge for a therapy or procedure. Also, some hospitals, such as Stanford Health Care, serve as tertiary and quaternary referral hospitals. This means other hospitals send patients who require more specialized care to these hospitals. As a result, the total charges for our patients normally include more extensive care. This often means there are more line items and higher average charges.
Other reasons why charges may differ among hospitals include:
- The equipment hospitals use to provide services differs in age and how often they are used. This may impact the hospital charges.
- Salary scales may differ by region. They are often higher in urban areas than in rural areas.
- Shortages of nurses and other medical staff may affect regions differently. Where shortages are more severe, staffing costs, and charges, may be higher.
- Hospitals differ in their approach to pricing based on operational costs. Some hospitals try to spread the cost of all services and equipment among all patients. Others establish charges for specific services based on the cost to provide each specific service. Some hospitals may provide certain services at a loss. Other hospitals subsidize the losses. Any of these situations can result in significantly different charges among hospitals for a service.