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Hospitals disclose standard prices, but actual costs are hazy | VTDigger

CMS announced the pricing-rule change in August, and it took effect Jan. 1. On Thursday, Verma had a conference call with reporters to explain her agency’s rationale.

As health care costs “continue to skyrocket,” Verma said, “price and quality transparency in health care is one of the top priorities for CMS and the Trump administration.”

CMS already had required hospitals to make their standard charges public. But the new rule says those charges must be online and in a “machine-readable format” that makes it easier for consumers to gather and compare the data.

Verma said she believes giving more cost information to consumers could boost competition, leading to price reductions and quality improvements.

“Unlocking cost information is critical to enabling patients to become active consumers,” she said.

At this point, there is no penalty for hospitals that don’t comply. But Verma said CMS has sought information from the public about ways to improve hospital-pricing regulations, and she said enforcement will be addressed in future rule-making.

“We’ll continue to look at this issue,” Verma said. “This is just really a beginning of a conversation around price transparency.”

So-called “chargemaster” pricing information is now available on the websites of all 14 Vermont hospitals. But many hospitals also are taking pains to point out that consumers shouldn’t take the prices to heart.

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Hospitals disclose standard prices, but actual costs are hazy – VTDigger.

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