RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Did you know you can shop for health procedures and compare prices online?
Federal and Virginia law requires hospitals to provide customers with clear, accessible prices for the services they offer. Hospitals must provide these prices in two ways: a “machine-readable” file — such as Excel — posted on their website, and an online display of services.
The state law passed in 2022 became effective on July 1 of this year.
“It is so important because it shifts power to all of the patients — all Americans — to be able for the first time to benefit from competition and, through consumer choice, lower our cost of care,” said Cynthia Fisher, founder of Patientrightsadvocate.org.
Data on how many hospitals are complying with the federal law varies, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) fining only four hospitals for non-compliance since the law took effect in 2021.
“In July 2022, we at the association with the support of our members hospitals and health systems actually published an interactive tool that is online that lists links to hospital and health system financial assistance policies as well as their financial transparency documents,” said Julian Walker, Vice President of Communications at the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
Despite a recommendation from the Office of The Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Virginia’s law does not give the state the power to impose penalties on hospitals that are non-compliant.
“The next step for Virginia state law when they come back into session is to add enforcement measures for the state and to fine the hospitals appropriate fines for not showing their prices,” Fisher said.
Walker asked consumers to remember that insurance companies and plans can often determine what is paid out-of-pocket.