Most Hospitals Aren’t Complying With Price Transparency Rule

Most hospitals aren’t fully complying with a new federal rule requiring them to make their prices available, according to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The goal of the regulation is to allow price shopping and, thus lower costs, although it’s unclear whether it’d have this effect.

The big picture: Hospital prices can vary wildly for the same service at different facilities. That makes it nearly impossible for patients to shop around for the best deal, or for employers to negotiate competitive rates.

  • * The Trump administration finalized a rule in 2019 requiring hospitals to make public the rates they negotiate with insurers.
  • * The rule went into effect in January. In addition to negotiated prices, it requires hospitals to publish the discounted cash prices they offer to uninsured patients.
  • * Hospitals also must publish the price of “shoppable services” that can be planned in advance.

What they found: The JAMA study found that only 17% of 100 randomly-selected hospitals were in full compliance of the rule, and only 25% of the 100 hospitals with the highest revenue.

  • * Hospitals were more likely to make their charge data available and to offer a shoppable services tool than to post negotiated rates or cash prices.

The bottom line: “Compliance could be limited because the penalties for noncompliance are minimal (maximum $300 per day) and the costs of disclosure potentially great,” the study’s authors write.


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