New Medicare Proposal Will Require Hospitals Post Their Prices Online

It’s about to get easier to see how much hospitals are charging for their services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday that it is proposing a new rule that would require hospitals to post their standard charges online in a machine-readable format. Hospitals are already required to make their standard charges publicly available, but this new rule specifically requires they post that information.

However, the charges listed would not include insurance information, so patients would still have to contact their insurer to find out if they will be paying that full amount.

“We are just beginning on price transparency,” Seema Verma, head of the CMS, told the AP. “We know that hospitals have this information and we’re asking them to post what they have online.”

The proposal also asks hospitals to provide electronic health records in a form that patients can take to their doctors or another health care facility. A CMS official told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity that starting in 2019, hospitals’ federal ratings would be influenced by whether they provide health records this way and those that don’t would be at risk of being penalized in their Medicare payments starting two years later.

Mighty contributor Desiree Roundtree, who lives with chronic illness, told The Mighty she didn’t think the change would make much of a difference to patients, especially in the case of an emergency and unplanned visits, since she doesn’t think people would Google what the cheapest hospital is.

“I believe in the transparency behind the idea but I think hospitals should prepare for the backlash they may face for the exorbitant charges they impose on patients in their biggest time of need,” she said.

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