Law Mandates Hospitals Post Pricelists Online
Health service consumers across the country will now enjoy the ability to view and compare hospital price lists online. A new federal law that went into effect on January 1, 2019, requires hospitals to post their prices, or chargemasters, in a downloadable format that users can import into a spreadsheet.
The new law goes a little further than the California statute enacted in 2006 that required hospitals to post prices on California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development centralized website. Lawmakers believe access to pricing information can potentially help patients prepare for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by their health insurance plan.
When you first start looking at hospital websites to compare pricing, you will probably notice that there are significant differences in prices from one hospital to another. A key point to remember is that most hospital pricing is somewhat flexible. Depending on a variety of factors, what you end up paying may be vastly different than what you saw listed on the chargemaster. A few aspects that may influence actual charges include:
- Your annual income (if the hospital is non-profit)
- The level of advanced technology in use by the hospital
- Your type and level of insurance coverage
- The ultimate outcome of the procedure
Since prices may vary widely, you may be wondering why it is useful for hospitals to list their prices at all. The law intends to provide consumers with a starting point to help them better prepare for the costs involved in medical treatments they require.
Advantages of Price Transparency
Having a general baseline from which to begin allows health service consumers to have some idea of what their final costs will be. It also allows insurance companies to have firmer footing as they negotiate for lower charges on behalf of the patient. Just as significant, however, is to give lawmakers a more natural way to research health care costs so they can fully understand the problems and possibly arrive at better solutions that work in favor of all the stakeholders.
Any steps toward making hospital charges more accessible and easier to understand will ultimately help you make better, more informed decisions about your own healthcare. Having the list prices for a particular health service at hand can help you tremendously when it comes time to discuss any billing or payments questions that may arise.
Your Trusted Guide
At Sackett & Associates Insurance Services, we applaud any step the government makes to simplify the healthcare delivery system. Arming consumers with knowledge is one way that patients are empowered to make good choices concerning their health. As the premier Santa Rosa health insurance broker, we’ve had the privilege of serving the residents and business owners of Sonoma County for four decades, and we plan to continue doing so for many more.
Our goal is to build trust by providing reliable solutions, custom-fitted to meet your individual needs. We proudly work for you, not the insurance companies, offering individual and group health, dental, vision, life and LTD from a variety of carriers. Request a quote today and begin enjoying the personalized attention you deserve.