How Will the New Rule Affect Patient Care?
According to new rules laid out by the Trump Administration, hospitals will now be required to list the cost of their procedures online as of Jan. 1st, 2019. This is an effort to make the process of finding and paying for care more transparent for consumers. Hospitals all over the country have been updating their web content to make sure they’re giving consumers all the information they need before visiting their clinics in-person.
But change is often difficult. This new rule is creating a lot of confusion in the marketplace. For starters, most insurance companies will cover a portion of the cost, but hospitals will only be required to list the cost of the procedure in full, so consumers may still be in the dark when it comes to how much they’ll have to pay out-of-pocket. Learn more about this new rule and how it’s changing the healthcare industry.
How Price Listing Laws Have Changed
Disclosing information regarding the cost of certain healthcare procedures is nothing new. Just like shopping for a new car or a new appliance, people have a right to know how much something costs before they hand over their money. Before this new law hit the market, consumers could contact a hospital before their visit and request information regarding the cost of various procedures, which allowed them to shop around for the lowest price.
But contacting hospitals and receiving this information turned out to be a challenge. Some patients were unclear in terms of whom they should contact to get this information. Not to mention calling local hospitals can also be time-consuming. Some hospitals might not make this information available to the patient until it’s too late.
This new law is designed to do away with this confusion. Consumers can now access this information just by visiting a hospitals’ website. No more phone calls. No more long wait times.
Potential Problems with the New Law
Prices Listed Won’t Include Out-of-Pocket Costs
While consumers can now quickly access the cost of various procedures online, knowing how much they’ll have to pay out-of-pocket may still be an issue. According to the law, hospitals are only required to list the full price of their procedures. The out-of-pocket cost of these procedures will vary based on the patient’s insurance policy. Consumers will need to spend some time contacting their insurance provider to find out exactly how much they’ll have to pay out-of-pocket if they decide to receive care.
Cost of Care Tends to Vary from Patient to Patient
Unfortunately, the cost of healthcare tends to vary based on the patient in question. Some patients may need anesthesia, several consultations, X-rays, and other preliminary procedures before they can receive care. This means some patients may end up paying more than the price listed on the hospital’s website, which could create a great deal of confusion among patients.
Someone might go to a local hospital expecting to pay a certain amount out-of-pocket only to discover that the total cost of care was far greater than what they were expecting.
Some hospitals do a better job than others when it comes to calculating the total cost of care for patients before their treatment begins, including insurance, anesthesia, patient recovery, consultations, prescriptions, and other varying factors that can affect the price of care. But this won’t be the case with every hospital and some consumers may still get stuck with a high bill.
It’s too early to say whether the new law will improve transparency in the healthcare industry, but it seems to be a step in the right direction.