GREAT FALLS — This month is ushering in a new federal rule for hospitals across the nation. The new Price Transparency Rule requires hospitals to publicly post prices for every service they offer and break down those prices by component and procedure.
Beginning on January 1st, 2021, hospitals operating in the United States are required to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about the items and services they provide.
The Trump administration’s Transparency Rule is designed to let people choose where they would like to receive their treatment, taking price into consideration. The new rule also aims to help patients who are often blind-sided by expensive medical bills.
“The new law that went into effect has multiple components, both around charges as well as shoppable services,” said Forrest Ehlinger, Chief Resource Officer for Benefis Health System. “And so some of those parts we already have on our website, that you can go and find specifically around what our charge master is and what our cash pricing is. We’re still working on the shoppable services component.”
While some hospitals are working on providing this new information to their patients, the Great Falls Clinic has had their pricing information for their services available to anyone with internet access.
“It’s on our website, there’s a tab called ‘Patient Resources’, and it’ll have a drop-down and it’s in alphabetical order, so towards the bottom it’s called ‘Patient Pricing Information', so just click that link and it’ll that them to the page,” said Samantha Shinaberger, spokesperson for Great Falls Clinic.
Penalties hospitals could face for violating the new price transparency rule include a fine of $300 per day and publication on the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) website, stating they failed to respond to the new rule.
The CMS website states:
Hospitals must post standard charges for at least 300 shoppable services that can be planned in advance, along with a description and any other services the hospital customarily provides with it. This includes things such as x-rays, outpatient visits, imaging and laboratory tests or bundled services such as a colonoscopy. You’ll be able to find the hospital’s standard charge for the shoppable service and see other associated costs.
The Center for Medicare Services plans to begin auditing hospitals for compliance on the new Price Transparency Rule in early January.