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The costs of health care elusive, despite transparency requirements

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[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Health.]

By Cynthia A. Fisher
Real Clear Health

A slew of recent healthcare studies confirms what American patients already know: Real healthcare prices remain elusive. Last week, PatientRightsAdvocate.org sent the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendations on how it can finally deliver actual prices to consumers by taking actionable steps in its forthcoming CY 2022 OPPS Rule currently being drafted.

In 2019, the federal government required hospitals to make public their chargemasters, the wildly inflated healthcare list prices that serve as initial negotiating points between providers and payers. This month, a study published in JAMA concludes that most hospitals have not complied with this transparency requirement a year and a half after it began.

A separate federal rule that took effect at the beginning of this year requires hospitals to publish their real prices, including their discounted cash and secret negotiated rates. New research by PatientRightsAdvocate.org finds that only 86 out of 431 hospitals surveyed (20 percent) are complying with the rule. Our findings demonstrating widespread noncompliance align with those in recent studies published by Health AffairsThe Health Care Cost Institute, and the Kaiser Family Foundation. A March Wall Street Journal investigation found that many major hospital systems were preventing their price data from appearing in search engines.

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