Medicine

Prices for hospital services to be made public starting in 2019

Prices for hospital services to be made public starting in 2019

On Jan. 1, 2019, hospitals will need to comply with new U.S. Health and Human Services rules that call for greater transparency in pricing and billing. But the new rule, which was announced in April, requires them to post these prices online in a format that can be downloaded to computers.

Often times, little to no price transparency can make it hard for consumers to price compare.

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.

It may still prove to be confusing to consumers since standard rates are like list prices and don't reflect what insurers and government programs pay.

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Other times the final bill is nearly never the same as the "sticker price" due to other charges such as insurance, and other discounts or premium charges, before a final charge is determined.

Thomas Campanella, the program director of Baldwin Wallace University's health care MBA program, said the price comparison tools provided by insurance companies already do that job.

While the online lists are a start, some hospital officials warn that the public price lists may not look anything like what you end up actually paying.