Before they ever set foot in the hospital, patients will be able to hop on their laptops and review all the expected charges for their particular medical procedure or surgery.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), together with a Trump administration directive, is now requiring hospitals to post prices for their services online, as the Washington Examiner and other outlets noted.
The rule is part of the administration’s goal of value-based care, which aims to reduce health care costs while improving outcomes. Officials hope to lower costs by giving patients more information about their procedures and even encourage them to shop around for their particular surgery or procedure.
Previously, CMS required hospitals to make the information available to anyone — but people had to ask for it.
Under the new rule, hospitals will need to update the prices every year beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
The CMS rule goes further than current regulations, and it requires hospitals to share prices in a bid to “encourage price transparency” and enhance “public accessibility,” notes The Hill.
The Trump administration is also looking into new ways to “allow consumers to more easily access relevant health care data and compare providers.”
“The agency is considering future actions based on the public feedback it received on ways hospitals can display price information that would be most useful to stakeholders and how to create patient-friendly interfaces that allow consumers to more easily access relevant health care data and compare providers,” CMS said in a statement.
Seema Verma, CMS administrator, discussed the administration’s approach to improving price transparency in a speech last month.
“This is a small step toward providing our beneficiaries with price transparency, but our work in this area is only just beginning,” said Verma, as noted by The Hill. “Price transparency is core to patient empowerment and making sure American patients have the tools they need so they can make the best decisions for them and their families.”
In early March of this year, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar warned about the need to keep Americans’ health care costs down in a speech he gave in Washington, D.C., at the Federation of American Hospitals convention.
“Today is an opportunity to let everyone know that we take these shifts [changes] seriously, and they’re going to happen — one way or another,” said Azar.
He also said in that speech, “The administration and this president are not interested in incremental steps. We are unafraid of disrupting existing arrangements simply because they’re backed by powerful special interests.”
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