U.S. Hospital Pricing Disparities and the Need for Transparency

By Consumers for Quality Care, on October 11, 2023

U.S. Hospital Pricing Disparities and the Need for Transparency

Nearly 100 million Americans are grappling with medical debt due in part to the fact that consumers still do not have complete and transparent access to prices for hospital services and procedures, according to CBS Austin.

In January 2021, the Hospital Price Transparency Rule was implemented, requiring U.S. hospitals to publicly disclose their standard charges, including cash prices, with penalties for noncompliance.

PatientRightsAdvocate.org (PRA) has been monitoring hospital pricing information biannually for over 2,000 U.S. hospitals, labelling them as either compliant or noncompliant with the federal transparency rule. In their latest report released in July, PRA found that just 36 percent of all hospitals have complied with these federal rules. While most hospitals were found to have posted their prices, the majority were found to be posting incomplete or misleading price information. This lack of transparency hampers consumers from accessing the information they need to make educated decisions about their health care needs.

Cynthia Fisher, the founder of PatientRightsAdvocate.org, explained how incomplete pricing information hurts patients. “When hospitals aren’t showing all of their prices, they’re harming patients every day because patients delay getting care for fear of financial ruin,” said Fisher.

To increase transparency, PatientRightsAdvocate.org calls for improved enforcement of the transparency law, timely fines, and public awareness campaigns to educate Americans about their rights. Their ultimate goal is to empower patients to demand fair and upfront pricing for medical services.

CQC urges increased oversight to ensure hospitals are releasing price transparency data in a timely, accessible way that benefits consumers. Patients have a right to the information they need to compare costs, and hospitals should be held accountable when they fail to provide this information.