Are Louisiana Hospitals Still Hiding Cost of Care From Consumers?
How many times have you received a bill for a hospital stay for yourself or your loved one that left you with your jaw dropped and nearing tears?
That feeling comes about from the darkness of the unknown. Most of us have no idea of the potential cost of our care before we see that bill, so sticker shock quickly ensues. Most people would never consider purchasing a new car without knowing the full cost before signing on the dotted line. Medical care, especially elective surgery, should provide the same information.
That was supposed to have changed last year after Federal law was put in place to help Americans know the cost of a hospital item or service before receiving it.
Going to cms.gov, we see, "Starting January 1, 2021, each hospital operating in the United States will be required to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about the items and services they provide in two ways:"
- As a comprehensive machine-readable file with all items and services.
- In a display of shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format.
- This information will make it easier for consumers to shop and compare prices across hospitals and estimate the cost of care before going to the hospital.
In a report released Wednesday, February 9, by patientrightsadvocate.org, we read that a number of Louisiana hospitals are not in compliance with this law.
Some of the eye opening findings from the report include:
- Only 14.3% were complying with the transparency rule.
- Only 37.9% of the hospitals posted a sufficient amount of negotiated rates, but over half were not compliant in other criteria of the rule, such as listing rates by each insurer and named plan.
- Only 0.5% of hospitals owned by the three of the largest hospital systems in the country – HCA Healthcare, Ascension, and CommonSpirit Health – are complying.
According to findings from Patient Rights Advocate, we can find some comfort in finding that two of our local hospitals are complying with the law.
- Minden Medical Center
- Ochsner Medical Center
Also in compliance is Baton Rouge General Medical Center.
The report also highlights the following Louisiana hospitals are not complying.
- Glenwood Regional Medical Center
- Iberia Medical Center
- Lakeview Regional Medical Center
- Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center
- Rapides Regional Medical Center
- Tulane Medical Center
HCA Highland Hospital nor Willis Knighton Health System were listed as compliant or non-compliant in the report.
According to Cynthia Fisher, Founder and Chairman of PatientRightsAdvocate.org, “Unfortunately, the vast majority of hospitals remain noncompliant after more than a year has passed since the Hospital Price Transparency rule took effect. Hospitals’ omission of price information in advance of care blocks consumers from benefiting from knowing the competition, seeking fair and equitable prices, and having the choice to lower their costs.”
Hopefully someone in Washington D.C. is paying attention and understands the need for 100% compliance.