Hospitals Must Post Prices Online
You can now “shop around” for the best deal for your next planned hospital procedure.
Beginning in 2021, hospitals must publicly post their standard charges online. This enables the patient to know how much some planned procedures will cost. You may even be able to shop around for a better price.
Hospitals must now post payer-specific negotiated charges, the amount the hospital will accept in cash for an item or service, and the minimum and maximum negotiated rates for 300 common shoppable services that can be scheduled in advance, like imaging, outpatient visits, and lab tests. The challenge comes in where to find these transparent prices since every hospital has them in different places on their website. However, now that you know they are there it may be worth your while to “shop around” for any planned hospital procedure.
Likewise, most insurance plans must disclose on the internet personalized out-of-pocket costs for services to the patient. Following are some sites used by some of the major insurance plans:
- United Health offers this site for premium members: UnitedHealth Premium Specialties | UnitedHealthcare (uhc.com) .
- Anthem uses this site for their members: SmartShopper .
- For Cigna members, you can use myCigna – Get Access to Your Personal Health Information login to find cost estimates.
- For Kaiser a member can estimate costs at: http://info.kaiserpermanente.org/html/estimating_your_cost/index.html?kp_shortcut_referrer=kp.org/treatmentestimates
Why is it important to have prices posted for hospital procedures? Because, outside of Medicare & Medicaid, there is little to no price regulation in the private insurance market, which includes employer-sponsored plans and those available through the federal and state marketplace. This means that the charge to the patient can vary widely.
Making costs more transparent can go a long way in controlling medical costs and places the patient more in control of these costs associated with the procedures.
“Make the most of what you have and keep your standards high. Never settle for anything less than you deserve or are capable of achieving.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart