Some Kansas hospitals fall short of ‘price transparency,’ report shows; could face large fines

Kansas

TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Under the “Price Transparency” rule that went into effect earlier this year, hospitals are required to report the cost of services online, but according to health advocates, most hospitals across the nation have been slow to comply.

A report from the Patient Rights Advocate, shows that 94 percent of the hospitals surveyed were not fully posting the prices they charge patients and the rates negotiated with insurers.

The rule allows consumers to know upfront how much they are spending, before they get stuck with a large medical bill.

“This allows you to shop for those services, and look for where you can get the care that you need at the best price,” said Phillip Steiner, an analyst for Kansas Health Institute.

Steiner told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Monday, about recent data collected on the Price Transparency Rule’s importance, especially for consumers.

“We found that there’s a lot of variation, depending on where you go to get care,” Steiner said. “There can be a two-to-three-fold difference in the prices that you might pay for the services that you receive.”

According to Patient Rights Advocate, their report found 4 Kansas hospitals that they said have not adequately complied with the rule. For example, some faults were found in compliance with listing negotiated rates, and for “payer and plans.”

Steiner said most hospitals in Kansas have tried to comply with the rule, which is aided with more guidance being put out by federal agencies, like CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services).

A spokesperson for the Kansas Hospital Association said the organization has also tried to provide more information to hospitals.

Hospitals and health systems are working to help patients access useful information about their costs, including through the use of price estimators and other tools. The Kansas Hospital Association has also provided information and guidance to hospitals on implementing the price transparency rule requirements. Some parts of the rule require significant staff resources that have at times needed to remain directed at the COVID-19 response.

SPOKESPERSON, KANSAS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION

Health officials said they’re encouraging hospitals to be consistent with the federal policy.

“I think hospitals are genuinely trying to comply,” he said. “There’s some confusion and complexity about what exactly the new rule required. Hospitals know that there’s a penalty for not complying.”

The rule was put in place by the Trump administration, going into effect in January of this year, with President Biden’s administration promising to crack down on hospital compliance just earlier this month.

Currently, penalties for the rule sit at about $300 per day for hospitals that have not complied, which Steiner said can vary based on the number of beds the hospital has. Harsher penalties are expected to come in 2022.

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