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New Project Asks Consumers To Share Their Stories

Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN

As extreme hospital and insurer bills continue to be a phenomenon in American healthcare, Vox’s Sarah Kliff has launched a new project, which aims at bringing transparency to high hospital bills and to tackle the question of “why these prices are such a problem for the American health care system.”

My colleagues and I at Vox are asking readers to submit hospital bills through our secure system so we can start getting a nationwide picture of one particular hospital fee, called an emergency facility fee. The reason we’ve selected this fee is because nearly all hospitals charge one for seeking emergency room care, but the price varies enormously and is typically kept secret. 

Consumers will submit their medical bills through a database, where the data will be collected, tracked, and used to bring transparency to consumers.

We want to bring transparency to these extremely common but little-understood fees by collecting facility fee bills from our readers… We’ll use these numbers for a year-long project focused on American health care prices. Help our reporting by sharing your bill with us. We launched this project in October 2017 and will continue reporting on the results through the end of 2018.

In response to the news, the American Hospital Association issued a media advisory to its members.  The memo notes the AHA expects to see more stories on hospital bills in the next year.  The advisory also sets for a list of guidelines of what members can do, in light of the news:

 
  • Share and discuss the issues addressed in this advisory with your media staff.
  • Identify spokespeople within your organization who can speak about your hospital’s pricing and patient billing processes.
  • Be prepared to share what steps your organization currently takes to provide transparent billing information and how you work with patients on their individual bills.

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