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Miami Children's Hospital Cuts Chargemaster Rates by 30%

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 20, 2014

To make up for lost revenue, the CFO of Miami Children's Hospital says he is renegotiating price rates with health plans such as Blue Cross, Humana, and UnitedHealth.

In an effort to appease frustrated and angry parents asking for the cost of certain tests or procedure for their children, Miami Children's Hospital is taking a pre-emptive step. It is slashing its Chargemaster prices—amounts that have very little to do with what most patients actually pay—by 30%.

"We've probably been getting 20 calls a day from people who ask, 'What will it cost me for my child to have ear tubes?' or 'What will it cost me to have my child in the hospital one day," says Timothy Birkenstock, chief financial officer of the 289-bed hospital.

"[We'd] been quoting them from our Chargemaster, which is antiquated, and so, gave them numbers that in no way resembled what they would really have to pay."

The price cuts are intended to "communicate better with patients and family members, so they understand better about the payments that they'll be required to make, and then we can move on and talk about how we're a Children's hospital that only takes care of children, and we do this better and this better and this better. We can talk about the things that matter, and not get hung up on the price," Birkenstock says.

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