42 CFR § 405.515 - Reimbursement for clinical laboratory services billed by physicians.
This section implements section 1842(h) of the Social Security Act, which places a limitation on reimbursement for markups on clinical laboratory services billed by physicians. If a physician's bill, or a request for payment for a physician's services, includes a charge for a laboratory test for which payment may be made under this part, the amount payable with respect to the test shall be determined as follows (subject to the coinsurance and deductible provisions at §§ 410.152 and 410.160 of this chapter):
(a) If the bill or request for payment indicates that the test was personally performed or supervised either by the physician who submitted the bill (or for whose services the request for payment was made), or by another physician with whom that physician shares his or her practice, the payment will be based on the physician's reasonable charge for the test (as determined in accordance with § 405.502).
(b) If the bill or request for payment indicates that the test was performed by an outside laboratory, and identifies both the laboratory and the amount the laboratory charged, payment for the test will be based on the lower of -
(1) The laboratory's reasonable charge for the service (as determined in accordance with § 405.502), or
(2) The amount that the laboratory charged the physician for the service.
(c) If the bill or request for payment does not indicate that the conditions specified in paragraph (a) of this section were met, and does not identify both the laboratory and the amount the laboratory charged, payment will be based on the lowest charge at which the carrier estimates the test could have been secured from a laboratory serving the physician's locality. The carrier will estimate this lowest amount twice a year by (i) obtaining lists of charges laboratories make to physicians from as many commercial laboratories serving the carrier's area as possible (including laboratories in other States from which tests may be obtained by physicians in the carrier's service area) and (ii) establishing a schedule of lowest prices based on this information. The carrier will take into consideration specific circumstances, such as a need for emergency services that may be costlier than routine services, in making the estimate in a particular case. However, in no case may this estimate be higher than the lowest customary charge for commercial laboratories, or when applicable to the laboratory service, the lowest charge level determined in accordance with § 405.511, in the carrier's service area.
(d) When a physician bills, in accordance with paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, for a laboratory test and indicates that it was performed by an independent laboratory, a nominal payment will also be made to the physician for collecting, handling, and shipping the specimen to the laboratory, if the physician bills for such a service.