Transparency in Healthcare Costs
Oh boy. Writing anything about healthcare in this country is a daunting task.
There are so many differences between private vs public, non-profit vs for-profit, and urban vs rural. Healthcare costs are on the rise; anyone who works in or utilizes healthcare can tell you that. One study I read, said that from 2000-2022, healthcare costs rose 109% while prices for other goods and services rose 68.8% over the same time period. Yet, healthcare is one cost that few, if any, consumers price shop before buying. Would anyone take their car to a mechanic without getting an up-front estimate? Who does that for healthcare? If you are interested in the price of a procedure, whom do you ask? Chances are your provider has no idea how much things cost.
As of Jan 1, 2021, each hospital operating in the United States is required to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about 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. Typically, consumers receive an Explanation of Benefits after receiving care, which details the price charged by the provider, contracted or negotiated rate, and consumer cost sharing. Now, consumers will be able to receive this type of information before receiving care and use it to compare prices and better estimate out-of-pocket costs. More requirements are due to begin on Jan 1, 2023, and Jan 1, 2024.
Unfortunately, according to PatientRightsAdvocate.org, only about 14 % of hospitals are in compliance. The organization reviewed 1,000 hospitals between Dec 7, 2021, and Jan 28, 2022. They found that 143 hospitals were in compliance; meaning that over 85% were not. Compliance was slightly higher for the price estimator requirement, with 84% of hospitals publishing a price estimator tool.
Why is this important? This information allows consumers to understand the competition, seek fair and equitable prices, and the choice to lower their costs. Transparency builds trust, and it helps people manage expectations. It could also help patients make healthcare decisions. One study suggests that many people avoid care because they did not know how much it would cost.
That is why our private audiology clinic in Minnesota Hears to U, Audiology has been transparent for years; long before it became fashionable, much less legally required. Besides being the right thing to do, people appreciate understanding the costs going in. All our prices are clearly noted on the website. We are happy to check insurance coverage for you if you do not want to call. We often answer billing questions over the telephone before booking appointments. If you think you may need hearing aids, the cost of the aid and the cost of the service package (should you choose to purchase one) is clearly noted before we order your aids. No surprises.
And now with our online website, we are extending our reach with transparency as we feel it is of utmost importance! Please know that our goal is to give you the best pricing we can. That is why we are encouraging people to join as a member so that we can also get better pricing for bulk sales, just like a brick and-mortar warehouse, but better!
It really all comes down to trust. Hearing healthcare is a journey. You need to trust your guide on this journey or it will not be a satisfying, fruitful one for you or those who love you. Yes, you need to believe that your provider is professional and knowledgeable in their field. Stating a price and then billing that price, is a part of building that trust.
We commit to this for you and for our network of providers. Thanks for reading and happy hearing.