Which facility is best for my outpatient procedure?

If you have a choice between a hospital outpatient department and an ambulatory surgical center, consider these questions.

Ask your doctor or health care provider: Notes
Is this procedure covered by Medicare?  
Which hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers do you work with when you perform this type of procedure?  
Which facility is the best place for me given my health status and medical history?  
Does the facility you recommend participate in Medicare?  
What if I have a medical emergency during a procedure at an ambulatory surgical center?  
How well do these facilities check their quality of care? Do they have enough staffing, coordinate care, promote medication safety, and take steps to prevent infection?  
Check your insurance coverage: Notes

Will my costs be different at a hospital outpatient department than an ambulatory surgical center?

Visit Medicare.gov/procedure-price-lookup to learn more.


If you have a supplement ( Medigap ) policy or a Medicare Advantage plan, ask:

  • Do I have to use a certain hospital or ambulatory surgical center?
  • Do I need permission (like a preauthorization or a referral) before my outpatient procedure?

Hospital outpatient departments are a part of a hospital where you get outpatient services or procedures done, like a surgery center or pain clinic.

Ambulatory surgical centers are non-hospital facilities where certain surgeries and procedures may be performed for patients who aren’t expected to need more than 24 hours of care, and provide a convenient alternative to hospitals with the same quality care – usually at a lower cost to you.