Bill would require hospitals post procedure costs online

A bill being debated in the North Carolina legislature would enhance transparency regarding hospital costs and bills, reported the Winston-Salem Journal.

The bill would require hospitals publish prices for their 50 most common episodes of care and make them available on the website of the North Carolina Health Information Exchange, according to Government Health IT.

"You should know what the cost of a procedure is," state Sen. Bob Rucho, a retired dentist who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee, told the Journal. "You do that with every other purchase. Why shouldn't you be able to do that in healthcare?"

The bill was authored by Rucho and fellow Sen. Harry Brown, both Republicans, who were prompted to push the legislation in light of recent newspaper reports discussing thousands of North Carolina patients getting sued by hospitals, sometimes for nominal amounts, the article noted.

The North Carolina Hospital Association has yet to take a position on the bill, Government Health IT reported.

Prices that are difficult to obtain from hospitals and hidden fees have prompted at least one provider, Mercy Regional Medical Center in Lorain, Ohio, to advertise they do not employ facility fees, reported The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

North Carolina was among the 29 states that received a failing grade for their healthcare price transparency laws in a March report by the Catalyst for Payment Reform. Ohio and six other states squeezed out a D grade.

To learn more:
- read the Journal article
- read the Government Health IT article
- read the Plan Dealer article