WisBusiness.com: As hospitals post sticker prices online, most patients will remain befuddled

WisBusiness.com: As hospitals post sticker prices online, most patients will remain befuddled

The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s chief operating officer says recent price transparency rules from the federal government require hospitals to display complex technical pricing information that tells the average patient little.

Brian Potter calls the Jan. 1 rule change a “strange requirement,” saying the information is “not something a consumer would use.”

He notes the Affordable Care Act already includes a pricing transparency provision, “so it’s not a new requirement.” Rather, he sees it as a clarification that sets a higher standard for displaying certain pricing information.

However, the information that’s now required to be posted publicly is in a machine-readable format, according to Potter. In essence, hospitals are posting a comprehensive report on the “guts of the billing system,” he says.

He points out that the WHA has its own transparency website called PricePoint, which he says groups costs into categories to make the interface more consumer-friendly.

Although the new requirement doesn’t add much of use to most patients, Potter sees it as a kind of “first step” toward a more transparent system.

Still, Potter told WisBusiness.com he finds the rule “bizarre,” because if CMS was trying to make health pricing more transparent to consumers, why not collect this information and display it in one centralized database? Instead, patients have to go to each hospital’s website to pore through spreadsheets.

Looking ahead, he expects more transparency requirements to come out from CMS.

Read the full article here.