HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Starting Jan. 1, hospitals will be required to post prices for their services in a place that can be easily viewed by the public, such as their website.
In 2019, President Trump issued ‘Executive Order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First‘, which called for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to recommend policy changes that would make pricing in hospitals more transparent.
You can view the full proposal from CMS by clicking here.
Non-profits that advocate for transparency in healthcare consider this a big win for consumers.
“We’ve been blindsided by outrageous medical bills and then hospitals expect us to pay with a blank check,” said Cynthia Fisher, the founder and chairman of Patient Rights Advocate. “For the first time, healthcare is going to start to behave like every other sector of our economy, where hospitals are going to have to compete for our business.”
Two-thirds of Americans who file for bankruptcy say expensive medical bills are the major cause of their bankruptcy.
The hope is that publicly posted prices for procedures will increase competition between hospitals, allowing people seeking non-emergency medical care to window shop online for the most affordable location for their care.
Fisher said being able to view hospital’s prices online will save patients money because “[hospitals] have to show the discounted cash prices as well as the negotiated rates with the insurers.”
In a study that appeared in ‘Health Management Policy and Innovation‘, researchers said that cash prices in hospitals were on average 39 percent lower than the price insurers paid.
Both people seeking medical care and the companies that insure them can benefit from more transparent pricing in hospitals.
“That means we’ll have more money saved, more money in our wallets and savings accounts and employers will be able to pay more in wages rather than having double digit increases in their health insurance costs,” said Fisher.
One in five Americans use Medicaid to help cover the cost of their medical procedures, but Medicaid doesn’t cover everything.
“[People using Medicaid] do need care that often times isn’t covered. So there’s going to be other charges that they will be able to shop in advance,” said Fisher.
The new change in policy will begin being enforced Friday, January 1, 2021.
CMS will make sure the new rules are followed, but it is up to consumers to make the change count.
“It’s our decision, and choices that will drive down the cost of healthcare,” said Fisher.