Frequently Asked Questions

What are estimates?

Estimates are estimated out-of-pocket costs, including co-pays, of the medical service a patient is scheduled to receive, based on factors such as the staffing and equipment needed to provide the service.

Estimates include co-pays and applicable discounts.

  • For example, a patient on financial assistance will have the discount they qualify for automatically factored into their estimate.
  • Applicable discounts include: financial assistance discounts, uninsured discounts or cosmetic discounts (e.g., Midsota discounts).

Who receives estimates?

CentraCare sends estimates to all uninsured patients who schedule an appointment at least three days in advance.

CentraCare strives to send estimates to all scheduled patients who schedule an appointment at least three days in advance.

When and where do patients receive estimates?

Self-pay patients receive estimates within three business days of when they schedule an appointment, if the appointment is scheduled more than three days in advance. (Patients scheduling an appointment within three days at CentraCare may or may not receive an estimate.)

Most insured patients also receive estimates within this same timeframe, although there might be some outliers, based on the high volume of estimates needing to be manually reviewed and the prioritization of self-pay patients.

Estimates are sent through text and/or email, depending on the patient’s communication settings. Estimates are also available in MyChart if the patient has an account. (Patients without a MyChart account and who have opted out of receiving texts and emails will receive estimates through the mail.)

Why do patients receive estimates?

CentraCare is committed to supporting your health care journey. Our goal is to ease financial stress through price transparency. Since 2021, one way we have done this is by providing estimates to patients prior to their scheduled visits.

While CentraCare has sent estimates since 2021, in January of 2022 with the passing of the No Suprises Act, it became mandatory to send estimates to all self-pay patients (with the few exceptions mentioned above, under “Who receives estimates?”).

Are estimates the same as bills?

No, an estimate is not the same as a bill. Estimates are created when a medical service is scheduled, to provide price transparency before a visit. Final bills are generated after a patient receives the service. While not a bill, patients are encouraged to discuss financial support options and pay prior to receiving care.

Are estimates accurate?

A majority of CentraCare’s estimates are within $50 of the final bill.

What happens if the estimate is off by over $400?

If the estimate turns out to be inaccurate by $400 or more, based on the No Surprises Act criteria, a self-pay patient may initiate a dispute through the Patient Provider Dispute Resolution process. This process is available through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). More details can be found at

Why might the final bill be different from the estimate?

Estimates are based on the services a patient is scheduled to receive; sometimes those services change during the actual visit, which would then change the final cost.

What happens if I pay on an estimate that is more than my final bill?

If you overpay an estimate and have a balance due with CentraCare, the overpayment amount will first go toward that balance. If you are a guarantor to others who have an outstanding balance, the overpayment amount will go to that balance. Any remaining amount will be refunded to you.

How can I pay my estimate?

You can pay an estimate using a variety of options, including debit card, credit card, FSA, HSA, electronic check payment (ACH), Apple Pay, Google Pay, check or money order. Please do not send cash by mail.

To make a payment, patients can:

  • Click the link if you receive a text message and/or email notification, and follow the payment instructions.
  • Follow the information provided if you receive a paper estimate by mail.
  • Visit Enter information from your statement, and follow the payment instructions.
  • Mail a check or money order with the payment slip included with your estimate statement.

Do I need to pay an estimate?

Only select services require an estimate to be paid prior to care. In these cases, a financial counselor will reach out to the patient to assist. You can, however, pay an estimate, and we encourage you to discuss financial support options and pay prior to receiving care.

What if I am unable to pay the outstanding balance at one time?

CentraCare understands that paying medical bills can be difficult, and we offer flexible payment options to make it easier. Setting up a payment plan is simple and can be done from your electronic device. Here are four ways you can set up a payment plan:

  • Visit, and select the payment frequency, duration, payment amount and date of your first payment.
  • You can make a partial payment on by entering the amount that you wish to pay today. Note: You are still responsible for paying the total balance by the payment due date.
  • Follow the prompts when if receive text or email communications regarding estimates.
  • If you do not see a payment plan that fits your specific need, please contact our customer service team at 320-255-5622 to learn about other options that may be available for you.

How do I access my estimate online?

To securely view and pay your estimate online, visit, and enter your identifying information. Alternatively, if you receive electronic estimate notifications via text message and/or email, click on the link in the message to directly access your account.

Do I need to create an account to pay my estimate online?

No. CentraCare offers the opportunity to pay online as a guest. Please have your estimate available.

Where can I find my estimate ID?

Your estimate ID is located….

How do estimates differ from explanations of benefits (EOB)?

  • Explanations of benefits (EOB) come from the patient’s insurance provider, not a health care facility, and are generated after services are rendered. They show the actual services provided and explain how a patient’s medical claim was processed through their insurance.
  • By contrast, estimates come from a health care organization and are provided prior to services rendered, based on the patient’s scheduled services.
  • Those who are insured will receive an explanation of benefits and might receive an estimate. Those who are not insured will receive an estimate but not an EOB.

Can insured patients request an estimate?

Yes. If insured patients don’t automatically receive an estimate, they can request one here. There is also a tool available in MyChart for patients to create an estimate.

Can I opt out of receiving estimates?

No, neither self-pay nor insured patients can opt out of receiving estimates.

As of January 2022, the law requires that self-pay patients receive estimates. Because insured patients will be included in this law in an upcoming phase, CentraCare’s system functionality is not in place for them to opt out either.

Are co-pays accurate?

Co-pays are accurate 100% of the time because they are unchanging amounts set by the patient’s insurance provider.

Where can I get information on financial support options?

Information can be found on our website here. Or contact our financial counselors at 320.255.5616.

What if I pay an estimate and then reschedule or cancel the visit?

If you reschedule your visit, the payment will carry over to the new visit date. If you cancel your visit, the payment will be applied to any outstanding balance or refunded.

If I receive an estimate through text or email, how can I opt to pay it later?

• Select Why should I set up payment early? Then select Skip for now.

How can I update my contact information or communication settings (including opting in or out of receiving texts and/or emails)?

To manage electronic estimate notification settings, access your account at Click the circle with your initials, then click My Account. There you can view and edit your contact information, as well as modify estimate notification settings.

How do you keep my personal and payment information safe?

It’s our top priority to protect the security of your personal and financial information. Your online payment instructions are sent over a secure internet connection with industry standard encryption (SSL), and electronic payments are sent through a payment processor with guaranteed protection against unauthorized transactions. CentraCare and agents acting on our behalf will never share your personal information with anybody else.

What should I do if my estimate is inaccurate or I need additional support?

Call our Customer Service line at 320.255.5622. They’ll be happy to answer your question or direct you to someone who can.