Hospitals to list procedure prices under new law: What you need to know
Hospitals already have to make prices for procedures available on request, but a new rule requiring them to post the information online goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
The move toward price transparency sounds like a step in the right direction — part of government efforts to encourage patients to become better educated decision makers in their own care and shop around for the best value for, say, a colonoscopy. “The concern is that there’s a big difference between what the list price is and what the actual transaction price is — the cost the patient is responsible for.”
Almost no one pays the charges indicated on the price list, said Dr. Ira Nash, senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health Physician Partners in New York. The real prices are the result of negotiations with insurance companies and those are not published, he added.
There’s a legitimate concern the new policy is not going to benefit consumers and could confuse patients more than help them, added Benendic Ippolito, research fellow in economic policy at the American Enterprise Institute. The prices also won’t help people in a crisis who can’t exactly price compare what the hospitals in their area charge as they’re rushed to the ER, Azar pointed out. She recommended patients who aren’t facing an emergency become informed about the prices, but also consider each hospital’s safety record, quality of care and aspects such as location.
“If you have time to plan for something, I think you can make smart decisions,” Azar said.
Yours in Service,
Rachel Huerta, ARNP
Owner of Direct Primary Care of Boca Raton
2017 Healthcare Woman of Distinction Award Winner
Immediate Past-President of The Rotary Club of Boca Raton