The South Carolina Hospital Association has launched a price transparency website for consumers, and prices range widely for a variety of procedures.
The website, www.scpricepoint.org, provides pricing for 51 hospitals statewide for emergency care, inpatient treatment and outpatient visits. The site includes information on procedures such as transplants, childbirth and cardiac angiographies. Only Trident Health, the for-profit system operated by Hospital Corp. of America, declined to provide its prices, the Charleston Post and Courier reported.
The South Carolina website is part of a slowly transforming healthcare finance landscape, where providers grudgingly post some of their prices for procedures. Consumer advocates hope that such sites will eventually provide meaningful cost estimates to consumers.
"Nothing is more frustrating than sticker stock when you make an important purchase," South Carolina Hospital Association President Thornton Kirby told the Post and Courier. He said the state's hospitals are determined to address the growing concern of hospital pricing and the site is a starting point for price transparency in South Carolina.
Consumers can check out reports for individual hospitals on the site and also compare prices among facilities. However, the website only provides a range of prices when consumers request price comparisons. In many instances, the ranges between the high and low hospitals represent a roughly 80 percent to 100 percent price differential.
For example, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital charged an average of $4,747 for carpel tunnel surgery. By comparison, the publication noted, East Cooper Medical Center charged an average of $7,926 for the surgery.
Trident Health CEO Todd Gallati suggested to the newspaper that it declined to provide prices because they reflect full charges and not necessarily what a patient would pay. That tends to jibe with one complaint among consumers about hospital prices: patients would like to be able to receive a clear price estimate for services, but rarely receive them, according to TransUnion Healthcare.
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