A groundswell of support is forming at the state and national levels to make hospital billing more understandable and transparent for our patients.
Feeding that push are nearly daily headlines about patients who received bills that exceeded their expectations, people who were confused after receiving two bills for what looked like the same service, and hospitals’ efforts, legitimate as they may be, to collect on unpaid debts.
But, we know improving billing transparency for our patients is about more than hospitals’ facility fees.
It means voluntarily posting averages or ranges of charges for hospital services, including those that are most widely used—deliveries, imaging and other outpatient diagnostics, for example. That sort of disclosure is being mandated by the federal government under the new rules pertaining to “shoppable” services.
A major driver of the demand for transparency is the exposure consumers have to the cost of care. This comes with the rapid rise in health plans requiring very substantial out-of-pocket cost sharing.
We have every right to call insurers out for this problem, but we can’t stop people from focusing on hospitals since hospitals are the ones patients see.
So, it’s important that Maryland’s hospitals and health systems think differently about how to address this pressing issue. We can continue to support our patients by taking the lead in ensuring they have the information to make good decisions about their care.