Frequently Asked Questions > General Questions

Money matters can be confusing. Our Patient Accounting Department will help you understand your bill.

Who can I call if I have questions about my hospital bill?
During your hospital stay, please contact Financial Counseling. For Petaluma Valley call 707-778-2830. For Santa Rosa Memorial call (707) 525-5349 or (707) 525-5348. If you have questions after you have left the hospital, please contact the Business Office at (707) 778-7275 or (707) 525-5228. Hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Can I get an estimate of my bill?
Financial Counseling can provide you with an estimate of what your balance may be after your insurance carrier pays all benefits for your care. Please contact them. For Petaluma Valley call 707-778-2830. For Santa Rosa Memorial call 707-525-5349 or (707) 525-5348.

Does the hospital bill include physician fees?
No. All physicians who treat you in the hospital will bill you separately for their services. You may be billed by your primary physician as well as by your anesthesiologist, pathologist, radiologist or any other physician(s) your doctor consults regarding your care.

How does the hospital bill get to my insurance company?
The hospital will submit your bills to your insurance company as a courtesy and will do everything possible to expedite your claim. But your policy is a contract between you and your insurance company and you have the final responsibility for payment of your hospital bill.

Co- pays and deductibles will be collected at the point of service, if applicable. We have several payment options available to assist you in paying the balance your bill.

What form of payment do you accept?
The Hospital accepts cash, check, travelers checks, money orders, and the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

What is reflected on my bill?
Your bill reflects all of the services you receive during your stay, aside from physician fees. Charges fall into two categories:

  • Basic Daily Rate - your room, meals, nursing care, housekeeping, telephone and television
  • Special Services - items your physician orders for you, such as x- rays or laboratory tests

I don't recognize a physician's name on my bill.
If you have certain tests or treatments in the hospital, you may receive bills from physicians you did not see in person. Those bills are for professional services rendered by the doctors in diagnosing and interpreting test results while you were a patient. Pathologists, radiologists, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, emergency room doctors and other specialists perform these services and are required to submit separate bills. If you have any questions about those bills, please call the number printed on the statement you receive.

Can I make payment arrangements?
If you believe you might have difficulty paying your hospital bill, call the Business Office at (707) 778-7275 or (707) 525-5228. A representative will be glad to help you with financial counseling and will answer any questions you may have regarding payment. If you are unable to pay your hospital bill, our Financial Services department will determine if you are eligible for a fee reduction or discounted services through our Patient Financial Assistance Program.

What does my insurance cover?
Your insurance may not cover certain procedures, or have special requirements, such as a second surgical opinion or pre-certification for certain tests or procedures. Some physician specialists may not participate in your healthcare plan and their services may not be covered. It is your responsibility to make sure the requirements of your plan have been met. If your plan's requirements are not followed, you may be financially responsible for all or part of the services rendered in the hospital.

What if I don't have health insurance?
If you are not covered by health insurance and you will be paying your own bill, we ask that you pay at the time services are rendered. We have several payment options available to assist you. Please contact Financial Counseling prior to your visit for screening for financial assistance and government programs. For Petaluma Valley call (707) 778-2830. For Santa Rosa Memorial call 707-525-5349 or (707) 525-5348.

How soon after I leave the hospital will I receive a bill?
You will receive a letter five days after discharge confirming the insurance information we have on file is correct. You can then expect a bill once we have received payment or denial of payment from your insurance company. If you are paying your bill without filing with an insurance provider, you should receive a bill within 10 days.

I would like a copy of my hospital bill. How can I request one?
To request a copy of your hospital bill call the Business Office at (707) 778-7275 or (707) 525-5228 or visit the patient billing section on You can expect to receive a copy of your bill within 7 to 10 days.

Why am I getting multiple bills from one hospital visit?
Depending on the type of care you received, you may have separate hospital accounts with different account numbers. Some examples of hospital services that may be billed separately are: inpatient stays, outpatient labs, outpatient radiology, outpatient surgery, emergency room visits and ongoing therapies. You may receive separate bills from physicians (including radiologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists and other specialists) and other providers involved in your care.

I just got a letter from a collection agency. Why?
As part of our normal billing process, we make several attempts to contact and inform you of the portion of your bill for which you are personally responsible. We determine this amount after we have received payment or denial of payment from your insurance company. You may receive notice from a collection agency if, after repeated attempts to contact you, we have not heard from you or if we receive returned mail.

How do I dispute an error in my bill?
Please notify us in writing if you think your bill is inaccurate. Written disputes should be mailed directly to the Hospital at the address listed on the front of your bill. Please include:

  • Your name and account number
  • The charge you feel may be inaccurate
  • An explanation of why you believe the bill is in error

After we received your written concerns, we will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of your letter within 30 days
  • Suspend all formal collection attempts until we have responded to your concern
  • Provide you with a final response or explain the delay within 60 days of receipt
  • Make appropriate correction when an error is verified

If you wish to discuss your concerns with an account representative, we invite you to call the Business Office at (707) 778-7275 or (707) 525-5228 or any of the phone numbers listed on the front of your bill.

Will I be asked to make any payment when I come to the Hospital?
Depending on the type of insurance you have, you may be asked to pay your deductible and/or coinsurance.

Do I need to bring anything with me when I come to the Hospital?
In addition to anything your physician may ask you to bring, please bring your insurance card and any other documents that will be useful in the registration and billing process. For example, you should bring in any referral or authorization form that your primary care physician has given you indicating the need for the services you will receive. If this is your first visit to the Hospital, we ask that, in addition to your insurance card, you bring in a photo ID such as a driver's license and a check or credit card if you will have a co-payment amount.

Why do I have to give my insurance information every time I visit the Hospital?
Patients and/or employers change insurance policies with great frequency. Therefore, we ask for your insurance information every time you visit to ensure that our records are accurate and up to date. This gives us the opportunity to ensure your insurance coverage and benefits are verified, allowing us to process your bill quickly and accurately.

Should I contact my insurance company before coming to the Hospital?
That depends on the services you are going to receive and your particular insurance policy and benefits. In general, it is a good idea to review your insurance policy and benefits before receiving medical services. In some cases—for instance, if you are coming in for laboratory tests or a chest x- ray—you may not need to notify your insurance company. However, for many other services—such as an inpatient admission, ambulatory surgery or any invasive diagnostic test/procedure—your insurance company may require that you notify them in advance. Lack of such notification could result in reduced benefits.

I have Medicare insurance. What should I expect when I visit the Hospital?
If you are a Medicare patient, you will be asked a series of questions regarding your status including other insurance you may have, and your retirement status. These questions are required by law and must be asked each time you visit us. If you are covered by Medicare we will submit your claims to Medicare on your behalf. We are required by Medicare to provide only those services approved by Medicare and deemed medically necessary. In the event that Medicare does not cover the service, we may ask you to sign a notice that makes you financially responsible for the services provided. Additionally, we will bill you and/or your supplemental insurance carrier for services not covered by Medicare such as self-administered medications and routine health exams. However, if neither plan covers these services you will be responsible for payment for these services.

How much is my deductible and coinsurance?
Your deductible and coinsurance amounts are determined by the insurance plan in which you are enrolled. This information should be included in your insurance benefits handbook. If you cannot find this information or have other questions, contact your insurance provider.

I am also covered on my spouse's insurance policy. Will you send bills to both insurance companies?
The Hospital's Patient Accounting Department will coordinate benefits for patients covered by more than one insurance policy.

If I don't have any insurance, how do I know how much to pay? Whom do I pay?
If you have questions regarding the expected cost of your services at The Hospital, contact Patient Financial Counseling. For Petaluma Valley call (707) 778-2830. For Santa Rosa Memorial call (707) 525-5349 or (707) 525-5348 . The Financial Counselor will be able to give you an estimated cost of your hospital service. You may pay your hospital bill prior to service at the Patient Access office. A receipt will be issued to you for your payment. Major credit cards are accepted.

I keep getting bills from you. Why don't you bill my insurance company?
The Hospital's billing department will send you letters 30-90 days after the date of service. Please read this correspondence carefully, as it contains important information regarding the status of your account. If you are covered under an insurance policy or another party is responsible for your hospital bill, yet you receive a letter stating that you are responsible for the bill, contact the Business Office at (707) 778-7275 or (707) 525-5228. Please be prepared to provide your patient account number, which you will find at the top of your bill, and your insurance information. Your Patient Accounting Representative will re-issue a bill to your insurance company.

Does St. Joseph Health System provide financial assistance for patients that cannot afford to make complete payments?
Please contact our Patient Financial Services office for Petaluma Valley call (707) 778-2830. For Santa Rosa Memorial call (707) 525-5349 or (707) 525-5348 and one of our financial counselors will be able to assist you in applying for various government programs.