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FAQs

 

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  • 1. General

    • What is the AL Cost Calculator?
      The AL Cost Calculator is a web-based, enhanced resident assessment tool that allows assisted living providers to assess how costs are allocated across residents. It aims to help member providers make targeted staffing decisions across entire assisted living organizations.


      Who should use the AL Cost Calculator?
      The AL Cost Calculator is available only to assisted living communities that are members of NCAL. Intended users of the AL Cost Calculator are directors of nursing (to complete the resident assessment form), administrator/executive directors of AL communities, and corporate staff of AL communities and companies.


      Why should I use the AL Cost Calculator?
      Your assisted living community may already fill out resident assessment forms, but the AL Cost Calculator puts dollars behind that information. You can then better understand where your resources are going across your organization, over time, to make targeted staffing decisions.


      How does NCAL do the calculations?
      The AL Cost Calculator takes resident assessment items and sets certain response items to time. By looking at the amount of direct care time and direct care costs, the calculator informs on overall cost of care.


      What does it cost to use the AL Cost Calculator?
      There is no additional cost. The AL Cost Calculator is available exclusively to NCAL members, and the tool is a member benefit. Not a member? Learn how to become one today.


      How do I start using the tool?
      NCAL member assisted living communities must register to use the AL Cost Calculator in order to setup their account. Please visit our registration page.


      How frequently should I be using the AL Cost Calculator?
      The AL Cost Calculator does monthly cost estimates based on a completed resident assessment form. Therefore, you should consider logging into the tool at least once a month to keep things up-to-date, so you can monitor your costs over time. You can also update an assessment form for any resident at any time – which might be helpful should their condition and/or care needs change.


      How long does it take to receive a response from the AL Cost Calculator team?
      ​Due to the high volume of requests, please allow 3-5 business days to respond to your inquiry.


  • 2. Membership Requirements

    • Do I have to be a member of NCAL to be able to use the AL Cost Calculator?
      Yes. The AL Cost Calculator is available only to assisted living communities that are members of NCAL. It is not available to non-members, nor is it available to skilled nursing care centers or other long term care providers. Not a member? Learn how to become one today.


      I think my assisted living community is a member of NCAL, but I’m not sure. How do I check my membership status?
      Please check with your State Affiliate on your membership status.


      What if some of the assisted living communities within my organization are members and others are not?
      Only the communities that are members of NCAL through their local state affiliate are eligible to participate. The communities that are not members of NCAL are not eligible to participate and cannot be attached to your AL Cost Calculator account.


  • 3. Legal & Patient Privacy

    • How will NCAL use the data generated by the AL Cost Calculator?
      NCAL does not utilize the AL Cost Calculator to analyze or compile data regarding the costs/revenues of any assisted living communities.


      How will access to a participant’s information be controlled?
      Information submitted by the provider organizations is only visible to that provider organization. Multi-facility organizations with multiple assisted living communities attached to their account can have the account administrator manage permission levels for each individual user tied to the account.


      Why do I have to complete a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement as part of the registration process?
      The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that provides baseline privacy and security standards for medical information. Provider organizations are considered “covered entities” because they will be entering protected health information (PHI) into the AL Cost Calculator. AHCA/NCAL is a “business associate” offering a service to the provider that involves PHI. As a result, a Business Associate Agreement is required to make sure that all parties agree to safeguard the PHI according to HIPAA standards.


      Why is protected health information (or HIPAA-protected patient data) necessary to determine cost calculations?
      Completing a resident assessment form, which includes protected health information, helps the AL Cost Calculator determine how much direct care staff time is required for each resident. The amount of direct care staff time then informs the overall cost of care. Therefore, the AL Cost Calculator needs a thorough assessment of each resident’s overall care needs.


      Am I allowed to share my AL Cost Calculator data outside of my organization?
      NCAL members should not share their own AL Cost Calculator information with other NCAL members or competitors, as doing so may result in violations of state and Federal antitrust laws (among other laws). Using your own data may be helpful in collaborating with managed care and accountable care organizations. If you’re a Medicaid provider, the data may also be helpful in educating state Medicaid programs about assisted living costs.

      Should NCAL learn of, or reasonably suspect, that a member is utilizing the AL Cost Calculator in a potentially unlawful manner including, but not limited to, sharing AL Cost Calculator information to facilitate the collective negotiation of rates among providers, NCAL reserves the right to rescind a member’s access to the AL Cost Calculator indefinitely.


      I think an assisted living organization may be using the AL Cost Calculator in conflict with the Terms of Use. What should I do?
      Should you reasonably believe or suspect that another NCAL member is mis-using or mis-handling AL Cost Calculator information in any way, please contact alcostcalculator@ncal.org.


  • 4. Registration

    • How can I sign up for the AL Cost Calculator?
      Please visit our registration page.


      Are my login credentials (username and password) for the NCAL website the same as the AL Cost Calculator?
      No. You will receive specific login credentials for the AL Cost Calculator from Prime Care Technologies (the developers) once your registration is complete.


      How do I receive my login credentials?
      Credentials will be sent to new, registered users from Prime Care Technologies, the developers of the AL Cost Calculator.

      If your assisted living organization is already registered for the AL Cost Calculator, and you have an account administrator, please contact your account administrator directly to request to be added as a user to your organization’s account.


      I work for a company with multiple assisted living communities. How do I register all my buildings for the AL Cost Calculator?
      When completing the initial registration form, check the box to indicate that you wish to attach multiple assisted living communities to your organization’s account. NCAL staff will then follow up with you via email, requesting that you complete a workbook (Excel document) listing all your assisted living communities. Once you send the completed workbook back to NCAL, staff will confirm membership for each individual assisted living community and continue processing your registration.


      I work at an assisted living community that is part of a chain. How can I find out if my company is already registered to use the AL Cost Calculator and who our account administrator is?
      Please email alcostcalculator@ncal.org, and we can let you know if your company is already registered to use the AL Cost Calculator.


      I work for an assisted living community that is part of a chain, and our corporate office has not set up an organization account for the AL Cost Calculator. Can I setup an account for my individual assisted living community on my own?
      Yes. Administrators/executive directors of assisted living communities may create an account for their facility and will be given “facility-level” access. If a contact at the corporate level wishes to create an account, that individual will be given “corporate-level” access and will be able to access facility-level data within their organization. 

      Please contact your supervisor for any questions or concerns regarding your company’s involvement with the AL Cost Calculator.


      I’m a registered user, but I can’t seem to login. How can I acquire my username and password?
      On the AL Cost Calculator login page, please click on “forgot password” if you don’t know your username and/or password.


  • 5. Account Administrators and Users

    • Who is the account administrator?
      The account administrator has the ability access all information within the AL Cost Calculator for a particular assisted living organization. This access is called “corporate-level” access. They also have the authority to attach individual users to the account and set each users’ permission levels.

      The initial registration form should be completed by an assisted living organization’s preferred account administrator. This is at each organization’s discretion.


      I’m our organization’s account administrator for the AL Cost Calculator, and I’d like to give my employees access to our account, so they can help enter in the data or monitor our costs. How do I create user accounts for them?

      Those with corporate-level access can create new users by navigating to the Admin section and then selecting User Management. Each new user account is created by the ADMIN person, and a starter password is issued. The credentials, once provided to the new user, will require them to reset their password to a new one which only the user knows.

      It is suggested to set up accounts for each individual user in case an individual leaves your organization, and you must delete their user account.


      How do I find out who the account administrator is for my organization’s AL Cost Calculator account?
      Please email alcostcalculator@ncal.org, and we can let you know who the account administrator is for your company.


  • 6. Using the AL Cost Calculator

    • Do I have to fill in information for all categories in the resident assessment?
      No. The 25 different categories are an opportunity for you to provide as much information as possible regarding each resident’s care needs. You may fill out as much or as little as you would like to calculate costs. Obviously, the more information provided increases the accuracy of the estimated monthly costs.


      How can my staff or I learn how to use the AL Cost Calculator?
      We encourage member providers to watch the webinar "Introducing the AL Cost Calculator" to learn more about the tool and its features. You can also visit our Resource Center for video tutorials (to be released on a rolling basis). If you or staff still have any questions, you may contact alcostcalculator@ncal.org.


 

 Disclaimer

 
​The AL Cost Calculator is intended to be used by NCAL members solely for the purpose of compiling their own cost/revenue data for use in helping to operate their business and their own discussions with state officials and health plans/payors. NCAL will not and cannot utilize the AL Cost Calculator to analyze or compile data regarding the costs/revenues of any assisted living communities. NCAL members should not share their own AL Cost Calculator information with other NCAL members or competitors, as doing so may result in violations of state and Federal antitrust laws (among other laws).
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