A new Trump administration regulation went into effect on Jan. 1 (today) requires hospitals to post their prices online. It hopes people will begin to comparison shop for medical care.
The regulation requires hospitals to post consumer-friendly information about the prices of 300 services that can be scheduled in advance, such as X-rays, blood tests and knee replacement surgeries. Prices for emergency services aren’t included.
Consumers should be able to see the “negotiated prices.” Those are rates each insurance company has agreed to pay for that service. Up until now, hospitals said those rates were confidential.
The prices consumers will see only includes what the hospital provides. For example, patients trying to figure out how much a cataract replacement will cost should be able to find charges which include the cost of the emergency and recovery rooms, but not the billing information for the surgeon or the anesthesiologist.
Hospitals have argued in court that all the pricing information will confuse consumers. The regulation gives them the option of creating an online price estimator instead of posting prices.
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