26 CFR 1.501(r)-5 - Limitation on charges.
(a)In general. A hospital organization meets the requirements of section 501(r)(5) with respect to a hospital facility it operates only if the hospital facility (and any substantially-related entity, as defined in § 1.501(r)-1(b)(28)) limits the amount charged for care it provides to any individual who is eligible for assistance under its financial assistance policy (FAP) to -
(1) In the case of emergency or other medically necessary care, not more than the amounts generally billed to individuals who have insurance covering such care (AGB), as determined under paragraph (b) of this section; and
(2) In the case of all other medical care covered under the FAP, less than the gross charges for such care, as described in paragraph (c) of this section.
(b)Amounts generally billed -
(1)In general. For purposes of meeting the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a hospital facility must determine AGB for emergency or other medically necessary care using a method described in paragraph (b)(3) or (b)(4) of this section or any other method specified in regulations or other guidance published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin. A hospital facility may use only one of these methods to determine AGB at any one time, but different hospital facilities operated by the same hospital organization may use different methods. A hospital facility may change the method it uses to determine AGB at any time.
(2)Meaning of charged. For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a FAP-eligible individual is considered to be “charged” only the amount he or she is personally responsible for paying, after all deductions, discounts (including discounts available under the FAP), and insurance reimbursements have been applied. Thus, in the case of a FAP-eligible individual who has health insurance coverage, a hospital facility will meet the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section if the FAP-eligible individual is not personally responsible for paying (for example, in the form of co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles) more than AGB for the care after all reimbursements by the health insurer have been applied, even if the total amount paid by the FAP-eligible individual and his or her health insurer together exceeds AGB.
(3)Look-back method -
(i)In general. A hospital facility may determine AGB for any emergency or other medically necessary care it provides to a FAP-eligible individual by multiplying the hospital facility's gross charges for the care by one or more percentages of gross charges (AGB percentage(s)). A hospital facility using this method must calculate its AGB percentage(s) at least annually by dividing the sum of the amounts of all of its claims for emergency and other medically necessary care that have been allowed by health insurers described in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section during a prior 12-month period by the sum of the associated gross charges for those claims. Whether a claim is used in calculating a hospital facility's AGB percentage(s) depends on whether the claim was allowed by a health insurer during the 12-month period used in the calculation, not on whether the care resulting in the claim was provided during that 12-month period. If the amount a health insurer will allow for a claim has not been finally determined as of the last day of the 12-month period used to calculate the AGB percentage(s), a hospital facility should exclude the amount of the claim from that calculation and include it in the subsequent 12-month period during which the amount allowed is finally determined. When including allowed claims in calculating its AGB percentage(s), the hospital facility should include the full amount that has been allowed by the health insurer, including both the amount the insurer will pay or reimburse and the amount (if any) the individual is personally responsible for paying in the form of co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles, regardless of whether or when the full amount allowed is actually paid and disregarding any discounts applied to the individual's portion.
(C) Medicaid, either alone or in combination with the insurer(s) described in paragraph (b)(3)(ii)(A) or (b)(3)(ii)(B) of this section.
(iii)One or multiple AGB percentages. A hospital facility's AGB percentage that is calculated using the method described in this paragraph (b)(3) may be one average percentage of gross charges for all emergency and other medically necessary care provided by the hospital facility. Alternatively, a hospital facility may calculate multiple AGB percentages for separate categories of care (such as inpatient and outpatient care or care provided by different departments) or for separate items or services, as long as the hospital facility calculates AGB percentages for all emergency and other medically necessary care provided by the hospital facility.
(iv)Start date for applying AGB percentages. For purposes of determining AGB under this paragraph (b)(3), with respect to any AGB percentage that a hospital facility has calculated, the hospital facility must begin applying the AGB percentage by the 120th day after the end of the 12-month period the hospital facility used in calculating the AGB percentage.
(v)Use of all claims for medical care. A hospital facility determining AGB under this paragraph (b)(3) may use claims allowed for all medical care during a prior 12-month period rather than just those allowed for emergency and other medically necessary care.
(vi)Determining AGB percentages for more than one hospital facility. Although generally a hospital organization must calculate AGB percentage(s) separately for each hospital facility it operates, hospital facilities that are covered under the same Medicare provider agreement (as defined in 42 CFR 489.3 or any successor regulations) may calculate one AGB percentage (or multiple AGB percentages for separate categories of care or for separate items or services) using the method described in this paragraph (b)(3) based on the claims and gross charges for all such hospital facilities and implement the AGB percentage(s) across all such hospital facilities.
(4)Prospective Medicare or Medicaid method. A hospital facility may determine AGB for any emergency or other medically necessary care provided to a FAP-eligible individual by using the billing and coding process the hospital facility would use if the FAP-eligible individual were a Medicare fee-for-service or Medicaid beneficiary and setting AGB for the care at the amount the hospital facility determines would be the total amount Medicare or Medicaid would allow for the care (including both the amount that would be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid and the amount the beneficiary would be personally responsible for paying in the form of co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles). A hospital facility using the method described in this paragraph (b)(4) may base AGB on Medicare fee-for-service or Medicaid or both, provided that, if it uses both, its FAP describes the circumstance under which it will use Medicare fee-for-service or Medicaid in determining AGB.
(5)Examples. The following examples illustrate this paragraph (b):
(c)Gross charges. A hospital facility must charge a FAP-eligible individual less than the gross charges for any medical care covered under the hospital facility's FAP. A billing statement issued by a hospital facility to a FAP-eligible individual for medical care covered under the FAP may state the gross charges for such care and apply contractual allowances, discounts, or deductions to the gross charges, provided that the actual amount the individual is personally responsible for paying is less than the gross charges for such care.
(d)Safe harbor for certain charges in excess of AGB. A hospital facility will be deemed to meet the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, even if it charges more than AGB for emergency or other medically necessary care (or gross charges for any medical care covered under the FAP) provided to a FAP-eligible individual, if -
(1) The charge in excess of AGB was not made or requested as a pre-condition of providing medically necessary care to the FAP-eligible individual (for example, an upfront payment that a hospital facility requires before providing medically necessary care);
(2) As of the time of the charge, the FAP-eligible individual has not submitted a complete FAP application to the hospital facility to obtain financial assistance for the care or has not otherwise been determined by the hospital facility to be FAP-eligible for the care; and
(3) If the individual subsequently submits a complete FAP application and is determined to be FAP-eligible for the care, the hospital facility refunds any amount the individual has paid for the care (whether to the hospital facility or any other party to whom the hospital facility has referred or sold the individual's debt for the care) that exceeds the amount he or she is determined to be personally responsible for paying as a FAP-eligible individual, unless such excess amount is less than $5 (or such other amount set by notice or other guidance published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin).
(e)Medically necessary care. For purposes of meeting the requirements of this section, a hospital facility may (but is not required to) use a definition of medically necessary care applicable under the laws of the state in which it is licensed, including the Medicaid definition, or a definition that refers to the generally accepted standards of medicine in the community or to an examining physician's determination.