New Tool Reveals What Your Hospital Charges for Care

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A visit to the hospital is often stressful — and not knowing how much your care is going to cost just makes things worse. Now, a new tool promises to bring a little price clarity to the process.

PatientRightsAdvocate.org (PRA) recently unveiled a free tool that can search the price transparency files for 6,000 hospitals across the U.S.

The tool — known as the Hospital Price Files Finder — lets you search hospitals by state and region. In an effort to make the tool more user-friendly, the data that comes from hospitals has been converted to a more accessible format, PRA says.

PRA’s tool is based on a law that requires hospitals to publish pricing files for all items and services they offer. Included in these files is information about negotiated rates by payer and plan, as well as the discounted cash price.

Unfortunately, PRA recently noted that only about one-third of hospitals — 36% — are fully compliant with the law.

Cynthia Fisher — PRA founder and chairperson — recently sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra detailing the tool and explaining her belief that the tool can be used to help the federal government better enforce the rule.

In the letter, Fisher wrote:

“We are also excited about the many possible applications of this tool for technology developers to create price comparison tools, empowering consumers — patients, employers, unions, and government plans — to compare and choose the best price, and to have remedy and recourse if there are overcharges, billing errors, and fraud. This access will reveal the significant and pervasive price variation across hospitals and health plans, allow researchers to easily compare prices, and aid employers when deciding on their benefit plan design.”

For more on trimming your health care costs, check out “12 Ways to Save Money on Health Care.”

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