Hospitals now required to show pricing for services online

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-02 19:08:43-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Thanks to a new law, you can now find how much a certain procedure would cost at the hospital online. However, what the hospital posts may not actually be what you pay.

"That is what they will generally charge, it's not necessarily what the customer will pay though because their insurance will have contracted with the hospitals for perhaps a reduced rate," said Deb Esser, chief medical officer with Blue Cross, Blue Shield Nebraska. Those reduced rates come when you choose an in-network medical provider. Some local hospitals say they are offering help to make sure customers are getting accurate pricing.

A statement from Nebraska Medicine said “Nebraska Medicine shares the perspective of many of our health care colleagues around the nation that while well-intentioned, the CMS pricing requirement won’t give most consumers an accurate idea of what their care may cost. We encourage anyone with questions about prices to call one of our financial counselors directly. They will be able to provide an accurate estimate of hospital charges based on that person’s health insurance and other factors."

Jeff Francis, CFO of Methodist Health System saying, "Yes, we are ready to go with our pricing tool already available on our website. While CMS is now making this a requirement, we have always provided pricing information for those we serve. Accessing the pricing information online is helpful, but we would still encourage a patient to contact us so we can incorporate your specific situation for more accurate pricing details. The cost estimator is just that. Every patient is different – those with insurance and those with no insurance. Other factors can also come in to play and a website will not be as conducive as a conversation. We also like to speak to consumers about our financial assistance programs. We want to be able to work alongside our patients to assure they get the health care services they need. We don’t want costs to be a deterrent to better health. "

Esser said the new law will educated more people on the cost of healthcare which could change how people find treatments. "Taking the time to understand is it better if I go to the hospital to have this done, or if I have it in the outpatient facility or maybe I could do something in a home test," she said.