New transparency rules coming to hospitals nationwide January 1

Hospitals to list prices for services online starting Jan. 1

Hospitals to list prices for services online starting Jan. 1

Starting on January 1, 2019, a federal law will require hospitals to post a master list online for how much the facility charges for a service.

Hospitals have always been required to have their prices available to patients, but they have never been required to have them available for online viewing until now.

This list of services and prices, called a chargemaster, has previously been hard for prospective patients to access before undergoing a procedure or receiving a medical service.

The aim of the requirement is to spur competition among health care providers and educate consumers about the services they are paying for. Some hospitals say this is because their chargemasters contain proprietary information, while others say it would simply confuse patients.

Some hospital officials warn the published prices might not match the actual prices, which can vary with insurance companies.

"We are just beginning on price transparency", Seema Verma, head of U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid told the Associated Press.

Patients concerned about their potential out-of-pocket costs from a hospitalization should still consult with their insurance company. Even if it still requires a little guesswork on your part, this new transparency when it comes to health care costs is a welcome change.

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