Hospitals Now required To List All Procedure Pricing Online

You can now find out exactly how much your trip to the hospital costs, before stepping foot into the waiting room.  A new federal rule that took effect January 1st, now requires all hospitals  to post a list of their standard patient charges online.

From Aspirin, to heart surgery — the prices of all medical products and procedures are typically available in a spreadsheet somewhere on all hospital’s websites. For instance, here’s a look at a spreadsheet is available on Montgomery’s Jackson hospital’s website under the “Patient Resources”. It’ called ‘Chargemaster’

We spoke to some patients at Jackson Hospital  who say the listing sounds like a step towards transparency. “I think its wonderful if its easy to use” said patient, Joan Huckaby.  Another patient, Cortavius Watkins, explained that as a diabetic that’s in and out of the hospital “It’ll help me better to understand what all I would have to pay for”.

Still some health care advocates warn the new requirement of all hospitals is not as straight-forward as it appears. Rosemary Blackmon of the Alabama Hospital Association is concerned that rather than inform consumers, it may confuse them.

“The real issue becomes how much the out of cost pocket is going to be” Blackmon explained “most people are insured, and so there are different insurance plans and different out of pocket costs and so posting charges online really doesn’t help, because that’s not patients are going to pay”.

The mandate is supposed to help patients “shop around” for the best value, yet Blackmon worries that patients may be discouraged by the high price they see listed online, without asking the right questions.  “Patients that aren’t as savvy, that don’t know where to call to get information aren’t going to click around the website and find out who they can call” she said.

Still patients like Huckaby who say “it’s the information everybody needs because then you have a choice and you can compare hospitals”, are willing to take the extra steps.

In a written statement, Jackson Hospital’s President and CEO, Joe Riley,  tells us the hospital provides helpful definitions and direct contact numbers, to be sure patients understand their health care costs. Read his full statement here.  Jackson-Hospital-ChargeMaster-Statement



Categories: Montgomery, News