The hospital charge description master, or hospital chargemaster, communicates medical bills to payers and patients.
The hospital chargemaster plays a crucial role in revenue cycle management: it’s the heart of the healthcare revenue cycle. It’s the central point from which all billing gets sent to patients and insurers.
Organizations that fail to maintain the chargemaster face enormous problems. Poor chargemaster maintenance leads to revenue leakage. It can also lead to inaccuracies, non-competitive fees, and claim rejections.
What is the Chargemaster?
The hospital chargemaster is a list of all the billable services and items to a patient or patient’s health insurance provider.
The chargemaster lists the costs of each product and service offered by the healthcare organization, including any procedures, services, supplies, prescription drugs, and diagnostic tests provided by the hospital. The chargemaster lists the cost of everything related to that service, including any equipment fees and room charges.
When a patient receives service from a hospital, the healthcare provider documents the encounter in the medical record. Then hospital staff – like professional coders – assign the service a code for reporting and claim submission.
The codes are sent to the chargemaster. Each code is matched with a specific product or service and a fixed rate. Then, the charges are billed to the patient, creating a claim for payers – like insurance companies – to pay.