On January 1, 2019, a new federal law came into effect, requiring hospitals to publish their pricing for the public to see. This regulation, created in response to notorious problems with healthcare cost transparency, was intended to provide patients with more consumer control. The trouble, however, is that consumer advocates say these price lists won’t give away as much information as it seems.

The Requirements 

This new regulation, announced by the Health and Human Services Department in April 2018, requires all hospitals to post a master list of prices for services they provide and make it available to consumers online. With access to prices, the idea is that consumers will be able to price shop and choose a healthcare facility based on more information than was previously available. HHS Secretary Alex Azar stated that this requirement should allow patients more choices and create some healthy competition in the healthcare service industry.

The Limitations

Although, as of last week, patients can now access a comprehensive list of all services a hospital provides, alongside a list of the prices that hospital charges, there is still more information required before a consumer can make an informed decision.

Because of the complexities of relationships between insurance companies and healthcare facilities, the final bill that a patient receives is rarely the same as the “listed” price of the service. Insurance companies, on behalf of their insured, negotiate deals with healthcare facilities that include discounts on services. From the patient’s perspective, he or she will also have variable costs depending on co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles.

With all of these factors in play, this new law is really just an introduction to price transparency. In the future, consumer advocates hope that patients will be able to easily view what they would actually pay, based on the provider and their insurance benefits, before making a decision.

Reach Out to an Experienced Atlanta Attorney to Learn More

At Brian M. Douglas & Associates, we do our best to stay up-to-date on the legal matters that are most important to our clients. Estate planning is a big part of our work, and often asset protection and legacy planning include providing for current and future medical expenses. We work hard to provide the best and most-informed advice to our clients that we possibly can. If you have questions or concerns about how healthcare costs will impact your loved ones’ futures, feel free to reach out to our experienced Atlanta estate planning attorneys. Our office number is (770) 933-9009.