Beginning in 2019, it is easier for Americans to shop for medical treatments, compare healthcare costs and select hospitals accordingly, just as they check, compare and choose flight deals at airfare aggregator portals like IndianEagle.com instead of calling airlines or visiting their websites. Yes, the new federal law mandating online listing of prices for medical procedures, surgeries, and medical supplies at hospitals across the United States came into effect yesterday.
Keeping transparency of medical costs at the US hospitals as a topmost priority on the agenda, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 in the Obama era had stipulated public release of prices for medical services provided by hospitals across the country. In continuation to that, the new federal rule which was introduced in April 2018 requires hospitals to post their costs of medical services including surgeries, therapies and clinical tests in downloadable formats online.
Hospitals for critical treatments, psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation facilities do also fall within the ambit of the federal law for transparency of medical service costs in the United States. Even hospitals’ prices of drugs and charges for anesthesia would be listed online facilitating patients and their families’ seamless access to what they have to shell out at particular hospitals.
No more gaping mouths and frowning foreheads in utter surprise on receiving shockingly high bills. US hospitals’ online lists of medical services and prices, called charge masters, will be updated every year, at least once in 12 months, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The average American spends an approximate $10,500 on healthcare over the year, which may hit $14,944 in 2023, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In 2016 alone, medical bills cost Americans a total of $3.4 trillion. Despite its high spending on medical care per person, the United States ranks 12th on the index of life expectancy among the developed, wealthiest countries. Notably, the United States is one of the few countries where medical debt is a major reason for bankruptcy. A $500 medical bill is too high to pay for 45% of Americans, according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll in 2017.
Evidently, the new federal law requiring hospitals to be upfront about their prices of medical services online will not only make hospital bills less appalling, but also help Americans take informed decisions when it comes to deciding on a hospital. However, there are concerns about online listing of medical services and costs.
Some charity hospitals in the US charge for their services according to patients’ income. Prices of medical services at non-for-profit hospitals vary from patient to patient. Evidently, it is difficult for those hospitals to publish exact prices of their healthcare services online. Online listing of medical service charges may hold some patients back from receiving world-class treatment at a particular hospital for a little more price than that at other hospitals.
Anyway! With the new transparency of medical service charges online, you don’t need to call multiple hospitals to figure out what a medical service would cost you. You can easily decide on the hospital with the most affordable prices, according to your healthcare budget or medical insurance. Hope, hospitals’ charges published online won’t fluctuate as much as airfares for international flights do until a plane is overbooked or an itinerary is oversold.
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