High Value Health Care

The US Senate can clarify hospital prices

Health care

U.S. Capitol building in D.C.
Public Domain | Pixabay.com

As the Senate delays decisionmaking on the federal budget, it has an opportunity to pass the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act, an important consumer protection to help people know the hospital prices before they receive care. 

In 2021, federal agencies created a requirement for hospitals to post their prices to their websites. Unfortunately, compliance with this rule has been low. Some hospitals posted incomplete files, making it easy to question the prices’ accuracy. Even when hospitals did comply, the information was often difficult to find and use. Last year, the government updated the rules to require hospitals to link to their price transparency information on the home page of their website and to use a template for their information. This should make it exponentially easier to find and understand pricing information that hospitals post.

However, we’re pushing for even better transparency. We need hospital prices listed as dollars and cents, without wiggle room for hospitals to only provide vague algorithms and formulas that patients can’t use to figure out what they might owe. And other medical providers, not just hospitals, should  provide upfront price information as well.

Congress is considering a bill that would institute these additional requirements. This bill, the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act, can pass as part of the budget considerations, which have been postponed until March. This month, tell your Senator to pass this price transparency bill to lower health care costs for America.

*Edit: The original post said the deadline for budget considerations was January 19. That date has since changed and has been updated here.

Maribeth Guarino

Former High Value Health Care, Advocate, PIRG

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