Why A Decision By Vanderbilt Could Make Its Outpatient Clinics More Expensive For Patients | Nashville Public Radio

Why A Decision By Vanderbilt Could Make Its Outpatient Clinics More Expensive For Patients

Jun 17, 2019

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is changing the way it bills at offsite clinics. The designation for doctors visits at One Hundred Oaks will likely result in higher charges.

Vanderbilt has continued to move outpatient services away from its main campus — ranging from pediatrics to palliative care. But as of this month, the One Hundred Oaks complex across town is considered a "hospital-based" clinic, allowing Vanderbilt to bill additional fees.

"In general, hospital providers charge more for care — both Medicare patients and commercial patients — than non-hospital-based providers," says Jeff Rice, CEO of Nashville-based Healthcare Bluebook.

Vanderbilt sent a letter to patients, encouraging them to check with their insurance plan.

"Depending on their coverage, some patients may see no change while others may receive additional charges," said chief spokesman John Howser.

The hospital has also listed all of the clinics with a new designation, which also includes sites in Cool Springs and Spring Hill.

Howser says the change creates billing consistency between the hospital campus and One Hundred Oaks. It also allows Vanderbilt to qualify for additional discounts on medical supplies. And Vanderbilt says the savings will be used toward its broader mission, including to care for those who can't pay.

The policy change comes as federal regulators have restricted how hospitals can charge in their outpatient clinics, so called "site-neutral payments." It's a billing change that has put a particular pinch on academic medical centers, but a spokesman says Vanderbilt's policy is unrelated.