New federal law that was announced in April states that in the New Year, hospitals must publish price lists online of all the services they offer. This should also make it easier for patients to access their medical records.
Hospitals must publish public price lists under the Affordable Care Act, but with this new law hospitals are now supposed to make these lists available online. Every year these numbers must be updated so patients get the most accurate price.
Rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, and critical access hospitals are also expected to put price lists online under this new law.
Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, commented when the program was confirmed: “We are just beginning on price transparency.
“We know that hospitals have this information and we’re asking them to post what they have online.”
Some people believe that by posting this list, it could confuse patients. The hospital may give figures that do not match what is offered by their insurance. There are also some non-profit hospitals that calculate their rates based on a patients income, so the rate will not be the same for everyone.
Jeffrey Bromme, chief legal officer at the non-profit healthcare company Adventist Health System, commented to Modern Healthcare: “A hospital’s charges are not as relevant to a patient because the patient’s bill may be significantly discounted or the services are provided at no charge under the hospital’s charity policy.”
Tom Nickels, executive vice president for government affairs and public policy at the American Hospital Association, told Modern Healthcare: “We do not want patients to forgo needed care, especially if the quoted price is for the total cost of the service and not what the patient will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.”
However, the CMS stated that their guidelines don’t prevent hospitals from providing this information to patients and the public, Modern Healthcare reported.
Last month, the CMS pushed for separate plans to require pharmaceutical companies to publish drug prices available on Medicare and Medicaid in TV ads.
“This historic proposal is an important way to create new incentives for drug companies to start lowering their list prices, rather than raising them,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar, according to the Hospital and Palliative Care Network of Maryland.
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