Hospital prices are going public soon

Photo courtesy MGN Online Image Id: 353462<br />11/22/2016
Photo courtesy MGN Online Image Id: 353462<br />11/22/2016(KMVT)
Published: Dec. 26, 2018 at 3:26 PM EST
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Many Americans have left the hospital concerned or surprised at how much or little they've spent for a service there.

Well, thanks to a federal law, there will soon be more transparency on how much you'll be spending after your hospital visit.

Starting on January 1, 2019, a federal law will require hospitals to post a master list online for how much the facility charges for a service.

Often times, little to no price transparency can make it difficult for consumers to price compare.

Other times the final bill is almost never the same as the "sticker price" due to other charges such as insurance, and other discounts or premium charges, before a final charge is determined.

“The list prices are so high that the vast majority of hospitals don’t even try to collect list prices from uninsured patients,” said Benedic Ippolito, with the American Enterprise Institute, who has researched hospital list prices.

The federal law is being brought out as a measure to improve competition and help educate consumers, according to the Journal-News.

“We are just beginning on price transparency,” Seema Verma, head of U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid told the Associated Press. “We know that hospitals have this information and we’re asking them to post what they have online.”

But real transparency comes when consumers can easily see what they will pay to a provider based on their insurance benefits, said Thomas Campanella, Baldwin Wallace University health care MBA program director. He said some insurance companies are providing that information through price comparison tools.

“I almost see it being more of a political ‘look at what we did,’” Campanella said of the requirement to post list prices.

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