The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that as of January 1, “hospitals will be required to post online prices for every procedure, service, and medication they offer.” The latest CMS rule “is intended to improve price transparency and help patients better understand how much they will pay for care.”

Anyone who’s ever tried to find out in advance the price of an upcoming medical procedure knows how hard it can be to get a cost estimate. The new rule, ordered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is intended to improve price transparency and help patients better understand how much they will pay for care.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, “We are just beginning on price transparency.” She revealed that the requirements are “part of the Trump administration’s ‘efforts to encourage patients to become better-educated decision-makers.’” Nevertheless, “the new rule’s usefulness in helping estimate a bill is limited, at best: Hospitals are required to list ‘chargemaster’ rates – prices that are much higher than most patients pay.”

However, the new rule’s usefulness in helping estimate a bill is limited, at best: Hospitals are obligated to post “chargemaster” rates — prices that are significantly greater than what most patients pay. The format hospitals must use — Excel spreadsheets with thousands of entries — isn’t exactly user-friendly.

At the end of the day, delivering meaningful health-care pricing transparency will take time, energy, and collaboration on the part of government entities, insurers, consumers and hospitals.

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