Under a new federal law, all hospitals are required to post a list of their procedure prices online by Jan. 1, in an effort to increase cost transparency for patients.
But local hospital officials caution that while the intentions of the new law are good, price lists can be misleading because patients rarely pay those prices for medical services. Rather, a patient’s health insurance plan will often determine their out-of-pocket charges, which depend on an insurer’s pre-negotiated rates with providers, as well as a patient’s copays, coinsurance and deductibles.
In advance of the new law taking effect Tuesday, major hospitals in Baton Rouge have posted their price lists—also known as “chargemaster” lists—on their websites for patients to view.
For a more accurate picture of procedure pricing, though, hospital officials urge patients to consult with their insurance providers or an estimator.
“Woman’s embraces transparency, but we feel this new law will cause increased confusion, as a hospital’s list of standard charges does not represent what a patient will pay,” reads an emailed statement from Woman’s Hospital to Daily Report. “Patients need to talk to their insurer to fully understand their financial responsibility.”
Baton Rouge General offers patients additional resources to understand pricing, such as the Get a Quote portal, where they can contact an experienced estimator or fill out a form to receive a price estimate based on their insurance coverage.
Ochsner officials say they support instituting transparency requirements that provide patients with better understanding “in an extremely complex pricing environment,” but they also maintain the price lists may create confusion and concern. Ochsner also offers personalized price estimates to help patients with health care decisions.
Local hospital leaders also say while pricing is a major factor, it should not be the only thing patients consider when making health care decisions.
“There are several important factors that also contribute to a good health care decision, including clinical excellence, quality of services provided and the overall patient experience,” says Our Lady of the Lake President and CEO Scott Wester.
- Baton Rouge General’s price list can be found here, under the “hospital charges” link in the insurance section.
- Our Lady of the Lake’s price list can be found here.
- Ochsner Baton Rouge’s price list can be found here, under the “download” link near the bottom of the page.
Woman’s Hospital’s price list can be found here, under the “chargemaster” link.