Study: Hospitals widely non-compliant with price transparency mandate

Keith A. Reynolds

More than half of the studied hospitals did not have online chargemaster data available on their websites.

Many hospitals are not in compliance with price transparency rules from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) after the rules took effect Jan. 1.

According to a study appearing on JAMA Network Open, 51.5 percent of the 5,288 U.S. hospitals looked at do not have an online chargemaster in a machine-readable format as required by a CMS rule implemented at the beginning of the year.

This includes 305 hospitals with broken links or incorrectly linked files and 138 hospitals which only provided an online cost estimator. It took an average of three clicks to reach hospitals’ chargemaster from their website homepage, according to the study.

Hospitals with below average patients experience and private non-profit ownership were more likely to comply, while psychiatric hospitals and those with religious ownership were associated with less compliance, the study says

As previously reported, the rule was proposed as a means to act on former President Donald J. Trump’s executive order on improving price and quality transparency. The American Hospital Association and other hospital groups attempted to block the rule claiming it would undermine competitions and violate their First Amendment rights. In dismissing their challenge, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols wrote that the rule is reasonably related to the government’s interest in lowering healthcare costs and providing pricing data in an attempt to allow patients to make informed decisions about their care.

The rule requires hospitals to make public charges for 300 shoppable services available to patients in a “consumer-friendly” manner. CMS identified 70 services which must be published, and the hospital chose the other 230.