A flash review of U.S. hospital websites confirms the key finding of a similar effort from a couple of days ago in New York City. Both field checks found the federal rule requiring hospitals to show their prices for shoppable services has met with only spotty compliance since it went into effect Jan. 1.
The earlier inspection was conducted and published by Gothamist. A reporter found only one of NYC’s six major hospitals up to speed with the transparency rule.
The latest comes from Advi, a Washington, D.C.-based healthcare consulting firm.
Focusing on the 20 hospitals with the largest bed counts in the country, Advi analysts found all 20 presenting some prices on some services—but not all meeting the federal mandate to list at least 300 service prices (or show standard charges for as many shoppable services as it provides).
Further, the analysts noted some hospitals making it easy for consumers to find prices while others “seemingly buried the links.”
The team also recorded shortcomings in some details that would confound most consumers’ attempt to understand the information.
Not surprisingly, they additionally noted prices varying widely for some commonly billed Medicare procedures. For example, one hospital lists the price of a plain head CT at less than $100 while another has the same service commanding more than $2,000.
“While transparency in hospitals’ pricing may be beneficial to the average consumer and healthcare researchers, the implementation of this policy by hospitals has many hurdles to overcome before it can be useful,” the authors comment.
The rule may or may not stand for long, as it was established by an executive order from former President Donald Trump. Either way, healthcare consumers and their advocates are likely to continue pressing hospitals to increase transparency on pricing.
Analysis summary here.