Price for lack of billing transparency may go up for hospitals

When we need to make a big purchase, most of us research prices. But with medical procedures, too often the final tally is a big surprise. 

The Trump Administration ordered more cost transparency by medical providers. Then, the Biden team came in and decided it’s time to up the penalties for not adhering to the new federal rule.

A proposal released Monday would raise the maximum penalty for large hospitals from just more than $109,000 to $2 million a year.

The Wall Street Journal took at look at medical prices this spring and found they are hard to find. The financial newspaper found that too many hospitals "embedded code in their websites that prevented….search engines from displaying pages with price lists."

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra said, "No medical entity should be able to throttle competition at the expense of patients."

Stiffer penalties show just how serious they are about this.

A survey released this month reports that one-third of Americans struggled with medical debt during the pandemic. Being able to do a cost comparison could be very helpful. A health care study from 2019 reported that prices of medical services vary widely.

Example 1: A c-section baby delivery in Knoxville, Tennessee, came in at about $4,500. In the San Francisco Bay-area, it's closer to $21,000 for the same procedure.

Example 2: A blood test in Toledo, Ohio, is $18; whereas, the same test in Beaumont, Texas, was $443, per the report. 

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