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Hospitals Now Required To Post Standard Prices Online

Doctor's Office
Pixabay Creative Commons

Under new Medicare requirements hospitals are now required to post their standard prices online.  

Hospitals and some healthcare experts worry the change could be confusing for consumers because the listed prices will typically be higher than they’ll actually have to pay.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the Director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan.

She said the prices hospitals post are the starting point for negotiations with insurance companies.

“It could be a problem if consumers looked at that charge list and assume that’s what it will cost them to get a service at a particular provider," said Udow-Phillips. "There’s often very little connection between that charge and what a consumer actually pays.”

Udow-Phillips said consumers should talk to their insurance company for the most accurate information on how much their out-of-pocket costs will actually be.

Rachel Blizzard is a spokesperson for McLaren Central Michigan. She said consumers should not try and shop for the best deal based on the charges hospitals post.

“I think it probably will confuse people,' said Blizzard. "Ultimately what patients want to know is what they are going to be charged and have to pay for out of pocket and the chargemaster is not going to be helpful with that.”

Blizzard said the charges hospitals will begin listing are used as starting points to negotiate with insurance companies.

The best way to find out what a procedure will cost out of pocket, she said, is to speak with your insurance company directly.

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