Why Do Ambulatory Surgery Centers Charge Facility Fees?


Ambulatory surgery centers are a type of outpatient health care provider that specializes in outpatient surgery. These clinics are typically primary care medical practices that have partnered with surgical specialists to offer surgical procedures as outpatient services. These surgeries are performed in an outpatient setting, which means that patients can have these procedures performed at their home or another convenient location. Ambulatory surgery centers tend to be more affordable than other types of outpatient facilities and medical practices. As such, many providers are choosing to become an ambulatory surgery center in order to offer the same services at a lower cost. However, becoming an ambulatory surgery center costs money and there may be a fair amount of upfront investment. For example, not only must the clinic be equipped with the necessary surgical equipment, but they must also have their own operating rooms, anesthesia staff, and other medical staff members. Ambulatory surgery centers also charge facility fees to recoup some of their initial costs. Why do Ambulatory Surgery Centers Charge Facility Fees?


Costs of Operations

Ambulatory surgery centers have to have the same equipment and supplies as other outpatient surgery facilities. This equipment is expensive and may not be used for several years. For example, a surgical suite may have about $60,000 worth of equipment. When an ambulatory surgery center begins performing surgeries, they must purchase this equipment and repair it. Some equipment must be custom-built, which may or may not be included in the upfront costs. In addition to the initial cost of their equipment, ambulatory surgery centers also have to operate the building, maintain it, and hire staff to operate it.


Facility Fees

Ambulatory surgery centers may charge facility fees to cover their operating costs. These fees are common among facilities that do not own their own equipment, including ambulance service providers, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes. Facility fees can be as high as 7% to 10% of patient revenues. In some cases, these fees can be as much as $150 for a colonoscopy or $800 for a joint replacement surgery.


Revenue From Facility Fees

Ambulatory surgery centers typically only collect facility fees from patients. If a patient has a procedure at an ambulatory surgery center, then the provider will charge them a facility fee. If the patient then decides to have the same procedure done again at the same center, then the facility fee will apply. Ambulatory surgery centers are not allowed to charge consumers for using their facilities, but alternate arrangements can occur, such as consumers agreeing to pay a facility fee in order to have their procedure performed.


Costs of Equipment

Ambulatory surgery centers must purchase specialized equipment to perform procedures. This equipment is not used very often and may require repairs, maintenance, and the hiring of staff. Because these surgical procedures are performed fewer times than other surgical procedures, these costs are higher than they would be for a surgery that is performed more frequently, like knee arthroscopy, which is performed nearly 200,000 times per year. For example, arthroscopic surgery is a fairly common orthopedic surgery. However, in order to operate with an ambulatory surgery center, orthopedic practices must own their own surgical equipment, which is costly. Many ambulatory surgery centers have to buy their own surgical equipment, which is costly, and may be a reason why they charge facility fees.


Revenue From Equipment Fees

Ambulatory surgery centers collect equipment fees from their patients. Many ambulatory surgery centers charge equipment fees of $400 or more for many common surgeries, like colonoscopies and joint replacements. These fees help to cover the costs of the equipment, which may be more expensive than other types of equipment.


Profit Withdrawal

Ambulatory surgery centers often have to pay a fee to be approved as an ambulatory surgery center. This fee can be substantial and varies by state. Ambulatory surgery centers do not make money when they charge facility fees because they often have to pay a fee to be approved as an ambulatory surgery center. These fees are often substantial and vary by state. If an ambulatory surgery center chooses to collect fees for using their equipment, then this is not an issue and will bring in profit.


Bottom line

Ambulatory surgery centers charge facility fees because they must have expensive equipment and a large staff in order to perform surgeries. Because these clinics are often more expensive than standard outpatient surgery facilities, they may also be less common than other types of surgery. This means that patients may have to wait longer to get surgery because they cannot find an appointment with an ambulatory surgery center. Ambulatory surgery centers may also offer less convenient schedules and locations, so patients may need to drive farther to see a surgeon in an outpatient surgery center.

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