While it’s still an unanswered question about whether price transparency will lead to overall lower prices, Kaiser Health News (KHN) took a dive into the initial trove of data made publicly available by hospitals as a result of the Price Transparency Rule that took effect on January 1 2021. The following are five takeaways from the newly public data:
1. Prices vary greatly – The negotiated rates now being posted publicly often show an individual hospital accepting a wide range of prices for the same service, depending on the insurer, often based on how much negotiating power each has in a market. In some cases, the cash-only price is less than what insurers pay. And prices may vary widely within the same city or region.
2. Patients can try to find the price information themselves by searching hospital websites, but even locating the correct tab on a hospital’s website is tricky.
3) Third-party firms are trying to make searching prices simpler – and cash in
Because of the difficulty of navigating these websites — or locating the negotiated prices once there — some consumers may turn to sites like Turquoise. Another such firm is Health Cost Labs, which will have pricing information for 2,300 hospitals in its database when it goes live this month. Firms like Turquoise and Health Cost Labs aim to sell the data gathered from hospitals nationally to insurers, employers and others.
4) Consumers could use this data to negotiate, especially if they’re paying cash
For consumers who are able to find price data from their hospitals, this data may prove helpful in certain situations.
5) Hospitals still aren’t really on board
When it comes to compliance, there is a wide and varying range of compliance.