New year, new laws: Hospitals to post procedures and prices online
Starting January 1, you will be able to look online to see how much a medical procedure could cost you.
A federal law will require hospitals to put the prices of everything from casts to heart surgeries online.
"If you buy a car you want to know how much it is," said Hamilton County resident Michael Gaither.
Gaither believes hospital fees should be available to see and compare and soon they will be.
Some hospitals, like CHI Memorial, already post some of this information online. There is a disclaimer on the website, warning users that the prices they see could change based on insurance. Memorial's website includes the median charge for a service, as well as the lowest and highest charge.
A spokesperson for Erlanger said the service will go live at the start of the new year.
They also said several factors go into what a patient owes that won't be listed online, such as the type of insurance and benefit plans, and Erlanger also provides payment discount policies.
Erlanger Health System is complying with the new federal rule by posting a page online regarding standard charges, which will go live on January 1, 2019.
We are educating healthcare consumers with the following information on the webpage.
Links will be available to click and review the posted standard charges.
Understanding charges: Keep in mind that Erlanger's charges shown on the website are different from "cost," "reimbursement," or "payment." Several factors could affect what you may owe for services at Erlanger, including whether you have insurance, the type of insurance you have, and your benefit plan. The amount collected by Erlanger almost always is less than the charges billed.
Three common examples are:
1. Government programs, such as Medicare, pay hospitals much less than billed charges. These payments are determined by the government agencies and hospitals have no ability to negotiate reimbursement rates. A Medicare patient's payment is determined by Medicare, not Erlanger charges.
2. Commercial insurers or other purchasers of healthcare services negotiate discounts with hospitals on behalf of the patients they cover. A patient's out-of-pocket payment is based on the negotiated discounts and their individual benefit plan.
3. Erlanger has prompt payment discount policies and policies that allow self-pay patients to receive reduced-charge or charity care based on State law.
"It's amazing it's taken this long for this kind of divulgence, this openness,” said Gaither. “I think it's a good idea."
Gaither hopes having information from every hospital will create a more competitive market.
"It maybe will keep some of those prices down," he said.
Gaither said he will use the new information, but sometimes it's just not possible.
"If you can stand the pain long enough to check the prices, yeah, I'd use it,” explained Gaither. "But again, situation would overrule. If there's an emergency you don't really give what it costs, you go."
The new law goes into effect January 1.
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