Understanding health care costs and an individual patient’s out-of-pocket costs can be difficult. We know it’s complicated, so we are here to help. Below are answers to commonly asked questions about health care costs and charges.
To help you better understand how we determine the overall cost of care and individual out-of-pocket costs, we’ve also included links to price information and patient service estimator tools. These links include the estimated costs for hospital items and services delivered at both UAB Hospital and Callahan Eye Hospital.
How Are Prices Determined?
Pricing for health care services and what you are ultimately charged depends on many factors. In addition to the basic pricing for the treatment or procedure you undergo at the hospital, your bill may include additional amounts for things such as anesthesia, medical equipment, facility use, lab tests, certain medications, radiology services, supplies, provider charges, and care involving unexpected conditions or complications based upon individual health at the time of service.
How Are Prices Calculated, and How Are Out-of-Pocket Costs Determined?
Pricing for services delivered by a hospital begins with the Charge Description Master, a price listing for all hospital items and services available to hospital personnel as they deliver patient care. All items and services used during the course of a patient’s treatment are summarized on a bill, which represents the total price of all items and services used during a patient’s treatment.
If a patient has health insurance coverage, hospital bills are first submitted to the insurance company for initial payment. The insurance company would pay for hospital services based on the negotiated contract with the hospital and the patient’s purchased insurance plan benefits. If the total balance was not satisfied by the insurance company, the hospital could seek payment from the patient, which would represent the patient’s out-of-pocket cost.
For patients who do not have health insurance coverage, UAB Medicine developed a cash price for services, including a balance adjustment similar to that experienced by a patient with purchased health insurance coverage. This adjustment seeks to provide some financial fairness for patients who do not have access to or the ability to afford purchased health insurance coverage.
Calculating out-of-pocket costs is often difficult, given all the factors that can impact a patient’s bill. The best way to find out is to ask. Thanks to current technology, UAB Medicine can assist with estimating out-of-pocket costs for many of our most common services. This allows patients to better understand individual out-of-pocket costs and to satisfy that responsibility prior to receiving treatment. UAB Medicine also recommends talking directly to your health insurance provider to better understand policy and benefit coverage and how much could be owed for a specific treatment or service.
Keep in mind that the more complex or long-term the care is, the harder it becomes to estimate costs upfront – especially if unexpected complications or other health care needs arise. Please use the links below to access the UAB Hospital listing of standard charges and the online patient price estimator tool:
- UAB Hospital Standard Charge File (updated to reflect rates effective for fiscal year 2023).
- UAB Hospital Price Estimator Tool
Please use the links below to access the Callahan Eye Hospital listing of standard charges and the online patient price estimator tool:
- Callahan Eye Hospital Standard Charge File (rates as of 2023)
- Callahan Eye Hospital Price Estimator Tool
How Do UAB Medicine’s Prices Compare to Other Alabama Hospitals?
One of the top academic medical centers (AMCs) in the nation, UAB Medicine is committed to delivering excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, and providing top-notch medical education. As an AMC, UAB Medicine treats the most complex medical issues and cares for the sickest patients; more than 11% of our patients are transfers from other Alabama hospitals. Our flagship facility, UAB Hospital, is a public “safety net” facility that cares for any patient who needs our services. UAB Medicine provides more than $70 million in un-reimbursed charity care every year.
As a major medical research center, UAB Medicine may offer patients promising new treatments that are not available at other medical centers in the area. Also, UAB Medicine provides over 100 specialized services that are not offered at other Alabama hospitals, including organ transplantation, Level I emergency trauma care (the highest level), and some types of cancer treatment.
UAB Medicine trains the next generation of health care professionals, which is a critical public service that helps address Alabama’s physician shortage. We are not reimbursed for training some of our residents (doctors in training), which amounts to over $65 million a year.
Due to the expense of fulfilling these essential missions, the cost of receiving care at UAB Medicine may be higher than at other Alabama hospitals, especially rural community hospitals.
Where Can I Get a COVID-19 Test? How Much Does it Cost?
You have several options for testing if you think you may have COVID-19. You may call the 24/7 Alabama COVID-19 hotline at 1.888.264.2256 for testing site locations and hours of operation. Also, in partnership with the Jefferson County Department of Health, UAB operates an appointment-based testing center, open Sunday-Friday from 8 am to 2:30 pm. Patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call 205.975.1881 for screening. If they meet the screening criteria, they will be provided an appointment time at our drive-through testing center.
Patients must have an appointment to be tested.
For patients with insurance coverage who wish to pay out of pocket for a COVID-19 test, or for those with no insurance, UAB offers cash-based pricing. Please click on the link below to see pricing information on COVID-19 testing at UAB.
Where Can I Get More Information about UAB Medicine or UAB Callahan Eye Costs?
For more information about our pricing and your specific charges, please ask your care provider during your visit. For UAB Medicine patients, you also may call 205.934.6400, toll-free at 1.888.309.8435, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For UAB Callahan Eye Hospital patients, you may speak with someone in the business office by calling 205.325.8566, or call 205.325.8279 for UAB Callahan Eye Clinic patients.
Where Can I Get General Information about Price Transparency or Health Care Pricing Efforts?
Below are links to several free and reputable online resources that can help you better understand health care pricing and insurance:
- Healthcare Financial Management Association – Avoiding Surprises in Your Medical Bills (PDF download in English)
- Healthcare Financial Management Association – Understanding Healthcare Prices: A Consumer Guide (PDF download in English)
- Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Costs – Trusted Information on National Health Issues