Cost of hospital services to be posted online

News Staff Report

A new federal law that goes into effect January 1 will require hospitals to post prices for most procedures on their websites.
Atmore Community Hospital Administrator Doug Tanner was out of town on December 31 and unavailable for comment. A hospital spokesman said no discussion has been held related to when the local facility’s pricing site would be available to the public, but that it would “probably be soon.”
The federal mandate — called the Inpatient Prospective Payment System rule — was put in place by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to make hospitals more transparent and help give patients more information when deciding on important healthcare decisions.
According to several online sources, the new rule will actually be of little help to most patients. Costs listed by respective hospitals will be more of a “sticker price” for various services and will not reflect the negotiated price between hospitals and insurers.
Prices that will be posted online are prices before insurance and other government assistance programs kick in to help offset costs. That means the actual price will vary from patient to patient. People will still need to contact their insurer to gain a better understanding of what a certain procedure might cost them.