Hospitals now required to post service prices online

Updated: Jan. 2, 2019 at 1:19 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Starting Tuesday, a new federal rule requires all hospitals to publicly post the prices of services they offer online.

The decision comes from a proposal made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in April.

“It’s a good idea, especially if you’re just maybe feeling sick and you want to go to the doctor or the hospital,” Charleston resident Benjamin Swain said. “You have an idea before you go of how much it’s going to cost you.”

The rule aims to increase pricing transparency and offer options for customers to compare prices at different area hospitals.

Trident Health, located in the tri-county area, has posted a master list of prices for services offered in response to the new rule.

On MUSC’s website, a price list published by the hospital could not be found. But the hospital’s site said MUSC Health has prices available on a collaborative website managed by the South Carolina Hospital Association.

But some critics say the list hospitals will publish does not offer enough clarity or transparency.

A master list of prices does not include any discounts, co-pays, insurance information, or deductibles, so the prices listed could not be accurate for patients.

“Say you’re going into the grocery store,” Charleston resident Jonathan Taylor said. There are no prices in the grocery store, you don’t know what you’re going to be buying. So, set out the baseline, and then look into it and maybe build it up from there.”

Price lists could not be found after brief searches on the websites of other area hospitals, like Roper Saint Frances. East Cooper Medical Center officials say that they have posted the prices in compliance with the new rule which you can find at this link.

“I mean it would help with the people that are having difficulties getting into hospitals,” Jonathan Taylor, who also supports the new rule, said. “People that don’t make a lot of money, they need to know how much they’re going to be spending when they get into a hospital.”

After reaching out to several hospitals in the tri-county area, no one has been available for comment about the new rule.

Overall, many people say they think publishing a list of prices and increasing transparency is a step in the right direction for the healthcare industry.

“You should know, have an idea up front of what it’s going to cost you when you go to the hospital or into your doctor. I think it’s going to be a good thing in the long run.”

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