Beginning in January, hospitals were required to provide an online list of pricing for procedures, services and anything dispensed for your care be it a bandage, pill or blood test. Critics have touted that all this information will be of little use to the consumer because the prices are inflated and negotiated down by insurance companies. Furthermore, navigating through the convoluted list of procedures and medical codes can be a daunting task.
I decided to see for myself how hard it would be to find pricing for a surgical procedure. I chose an appendectomy, and after an hour of searching on three hospital websites, I was only able to find pricing on one site. I had to go online to look up information on the medical terminology and coding for the procedure to attempt to find it in the long, confusing lists. On two of the sites, I couldn’t find it at all.
While this new law attempts to require hospitals to provide information for consumers to comparison shop, it is of little use until something is done to make it more user-friendly. Hospital pricing has long been guarded as proprietary information, and until the hospital administrators make a commitment to true transparency, patients will continue to be on their own navigating the convoluted billing practices in place.