Rate Band

The allowable variation in insurance premiums as defined in state regulations. Acceptable variation may be expressed as a ratio from highest to lowest (e.g., 3:1) or as a percent from the community rate (e.g., +/-20%). Usually based on risk factors such as age, gender, occupation or residence.

Rate Review

Review by a government or private agency of a hospital’s budget and financial data, performed for the purpose of determining the reasonableness of the hospital rates and evaluating proposed rate increases.

Real Value

Measurement of an economic amount corrected for change in price over time (inflation), thus expressing a value in terms of constant prices. A common term in economics.


The process of sending a patient from one practitioner to another for health care services. Health Plans may require that designated primary care providers authorize a referral for coverage of specialty services.

Referral Center, also called Triage, Call Center, 24 Hour Certification or 1-800

This is a mechanism established by health plans to direct patients to approved hospitals and doctors. Often the Referral Center serves a UR function and certified or pre-certifies the care. These centers are also used by hospitals to refer patients to certain doctors, reduce use of the emergency room or to provide follow-up patient contact. Manages care organizations utilize these centers as their central hub of communications with patients and providers at the time of service.

Referral Pool

An amount set aside to pay for non-capitated services provided by a PCP, services provided by a referral specialist and/or emergency services.

Referral Service

Medical Services arranged for by the physician and provided outside the physician’s office other than Hospital Services.


The correction of relative values in Medicare’s relative value scale that were initially set incorrectly.

Registered Nurse (R.N.)

Registered nurses are responsible for carrying out the physician’s instructions. They supervise practical nurses and other auxiliary personnel who perform routine care and treatment of patients. Registered nurses provide nursing care to patients or perform specialized duties in a variety of settings from hospital and clinics to schools and public health departments. A license to practice nursing is required in all states. For licensure as a registered nurse (R.N.), an applicant must have graduated from a school of nursing approved by the state board for nursing and have passed a state board examination.


A method of limiting the risk that a provider or managed care organization assumes by purchasing insurance that becomes effective after set amount of health care services have been provided. This insurance is intended to protect a provider from the extraordinary health care costs that just a few beneficiaries with extremely extensive health care needs may incur. Insurance purchased by an insurance company or health plan from another insurance company to protect itself against losses. A contract by which an insurer procures a third party to insure it against loss or liability by reason of such original insurance. The practice of an HMO or insurance company of purchasing insurance from another company to protect itself against part or all the losses incurred in the process of honoring the claims of policy-holders. See also stop loss. Also called “risk control” insurance. See risk.

Relative Value Scale (RVS)

An index assigning various weights to various medical services. Each weight represents a relative amount to be paid for each service. The RVS used in the development of the Medicare Fee Schedule for physicians consists of three cost components: physician work, practice expense, and malpractice expense.

Relative Value Unit (RVU)

The unit of measure for a relative value scale. RVUs must be multiplied by a dollar conversion factor to become payment amounts. This is a common term in economics.


Continuance of coverage for a new policy term.


Monies earmarked by health plans to cover anticipated claims and operating expenses A fiscal method of withholding a certain percentage of premium to provide a fund for committed but undelivered health care and such uncertainties as: longer hospital utilization levels than expected, over-utilization of referrals, accidental catastrophes and the like. The fiscal method of providing a fund for committed but undelivered health services or other financial liabilities. A percentage of the premiums support this fund. Businesses other than health plans also manage reserves. For example, hospitals document reserves as that portion of the accounts receivables which they hope to collect but have some doubt about its collectability. Rather than book these amounts as income, hospitals will “reserve” these amounts until paid.

Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS)

A schedule of values assigned to health care services which give weight to procedures based upon resources needed by the provider to effectively deliver the service or perform that procedure. Unlike other relative value scales, RBRVS ignores historical charges and includes factors such as time, effort, technical skill, practice cost, and training cost. Established as part of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1989, Medicare payment rules for physician services were altered by establishing an RBRVS fee schedule. This payment methodology has three components: a relative value for each procedure, a geographic adjustment factor, and a dollar conversion factor. This payment methodology has three components: a relative value for each procedure, a geographic adjustment factor, and a dollar conversion factor. A Medicare weighting system to assign units of value to each CPT code (procedure) performed by physicians and other providers.

Retrospective Rating (Retro)

Insurance coverage that provides for premium determination at the end of the coverage period, subject to a minimum and maximum based upon actual experience.

Retrospective Review Process

System for analyzing medical necessity and appropriateness of services rendered. A review that is conducted after services are provided to a patient. The review focuses on determining the appropriateness, necessity, quality, and reasonableness of health care services provided. Becoming seen as least desirable method; supplanted by concurrent reviews.

Revenue Share

The proportion of a practice’s total revenue devoted to a particular type of expense. For example, the practice expense revenue share is that proportion of revenue used to pay for practice expense.


The chance or possibility of loss. For example, physicians may be held at risk if hospitalization rates exceed agreed upon thresholds. Potential financial liability, particularly with respect to who or what is legally responsible for that liability. With insurance, risk is shared by the patient and insurance company but the company’s risk is limited by the policy’s dollar limitations. In HMO’s, the patient is at risk only for copayments and the cost of non-covered services. The HMO, however, with its income fixed, is at risk for whatever volume of care is entailed, however costly it turns out to be. Providers may also bear risk if they are paid a fixed amount (capitation) by the HMO. The sharing of risk is often employed as a utilization control mechanism within the HMO setting. Risk is also defined in insurance terms as the possibility of loss associated with a given population.

Risk Adjuster

A measure used to adjust payments made to carriers or payers on behalf of a group of enrollees in order to compensate for spending, that is expected to be lower or higher than average, based on the health status or demographic characteristics of the enrollees. An actuarial result of analysis.

Risk Adjustment

A process by which premium dollars are shifted from a plan with relatively healthy enrollees to another with sicker members. It is intended to minimize any financial incentives health plans may have to select healthier than average enrollees. In this process, health plans which attract higher risk providers and members would be compensated for any differences in the proportion of their members that require high levels of care compared to other plans. A statistical method of paying managed care organizations different capitated payments based on the composition and relative healthiness of their beneficiaries. This procedure would generally compensate providers of HIV services with a higher capitated payment than providers of other (often less costly) health care services. In a competitive and voluntary health insurance market, like that in the US, health plans have a strong financial incentive to attract the healthiest enrollees, while excluding sicker, higher risk enrollees. This incentive encourages health plans to compete on the basis of risk selection rather than on the basis of cost efficiency and quality of health care. In the private insurance market, risk adjustment is a corrective tool designed to re-orient the incentives for health plans and enrollees, reducing the negative consequences of enrolling high-risk users by compensating plans according to the health risk of plans’ enrollees.

Risk Assessment

Anticipating the cost of providing health care to groups of enrollees. Actuarial assessments examine utilization history, demographics, health characteristics, environmental attributes, and other sociological, economic and market characteristics. Risk assessment can also include, less commonly, the identification of etiology of health problems.

Risk Contract

A risk contract is broadly any contract which results in any party assuming insurance or business risk. Normally this means, in health care, that if either the employer, health plan or provider assumes risk, it is agreeing to cover the expense of increased utilization beyond the projected costs or payment provided. Normally risk is assumed by the health plan or insurance carrier but can be carried by the provider in capitated arrangements or by the employer in self-insured arrangements.

Risk Corridor

A financial arrangement between a payer of health care services, such as a state Medicaid agency, and a provider, such as a managed care organization that spreads the risk for providing health care services. Risk corridors protect the provider from excessive care costs for individual beneficiaries by instituting stop-loss protections and they protect the payer by limiting the profits that the provider may earn.

Risk Factor

Any characteristic, behavior, or condition which, based on history, utilization, or theory, is thought to directly influence susceptibility to a specific health problem, increase costs or result in increased utilization.

Risk Load

In underwriting, a factor that is multiplied into the rate to offset some adverse parameter of the group.

Risk Measure

The expected per capita costs of health care services to a defined group in a specific future period.

Risk Pool

A pool of money that is at risk for being used for defined expenses. Commonly, if the pool money that is put at risk is not expended by the end of the year, some or all of it is returned to those managing the risk. Two different definitions are in use: 1) A pool of funds set aside as reserves to be used for defined expenses. Under capitation, if all of the risk pool is not used by the end of the contract year, it is usually disseminated to participating providers, and, 2) Legislatively created programs that group individuals who cannot secure coverage in the private market. Funding comes from government or assessment on insurers.

Risk Selection

Occurrence when a disproportionate share of high or low users of care join a health plan. See Adverse Selection.

Risk Sharing

The distribution of financial risk among parties furnishing a service. For example, if a hospital and a group of physicians from a corporation provide health care at a fixed price, a risk-sharing arrangement would entail both the hospital and the group being held liable if expenses exceed revenues. A method by which medical insurance premiums are shared by plan sponsors and participants. In contrast to traditional indemnity plans in which insurance premiums belonged solely to insurance company that assumed all risk of using these premiums. Key to this approach is that the premiums are only payment providers receive; provides powerful incentive to be parsimonious with care.

Risk-Adjusted Capitation

An actuarial term, this refers to methodology of payment to providers which reflects fixed payment amounts per member per month and then is adjusted further to take into account the lower or higher costs of providing care to individuals or groups of individuals, based on health status or characteristics.

Risk-bearing Entity

An organization that assumes financial responsibility for the provision of a defined set of benefits by accepting prepayment for some or all of the cost of care. A risk-bearing entity may be an insurer, a health plan or self-funded employer; or a PHO or other form of PSN. Health plans (except under employer self-insured programs) usually are risk bearing. Providers and provider organizations, if capitated, can also be risk bearing. There are 2 types of risk: insurance risk and business risk, each calculated and considered separately.

Rural Health Clinic (RHC)

A public or private hospital, clinic or physician practice designated by the federal government as in compliance with the Rural Health Clinics Act (Public Law 95-210). The practice must be located in a Medically Underserved area or a Health Professions Shortage Area and use a physician assistant and/or nurse practitioners to deliver services. A rural health clinic must be licensed by the state and provide preventive services. These providers are usually qualified for special compensations, reimbursements and exemptions.

Rural Health Clinics Act

Establishes a reimbursement mechanism to support the provision of primary care services in rural areas. Public Law 95-210 was enacted in 1977 and authorizes the expanded use of physician assistants, nurse practitioners and certified nurse practitioners; extends Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to designated clinics; and raises Medicaid reimbursement levels to those set by Medicare.