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Reproduced from Gondi, et al., 2021, "Early Hospital Compliance With Federal Requirements for Price Transparency"; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most hospitals aren't fully complying with a new federal rule requiring them to make their prices available, according to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The goal of the regulation is to allow price shopping and, thus lower costs, although it's unclear whether it'd have this effect.

The big picture: Hospital prices can vary wildly for the same service at different facilities. That makes it nearly impossible for patients to shop around for the best deal, or for employers to negotiate competitive rates.

  • The Trump administration finalized a rule in 2019 requiring hospitals to make public the rates they negotiate with insurers.
  • The rule went into effect in January. In addition to negotiated prices, it requires hospitals to publish the discounted cash prices they offer to uninsured patients.
  • Hospitals also must publish the price of "shoppable services" that can be planned in advance.

What they found: The JAMA study found that only 17% of 100 randomly-selected hospitals were in full compliance of the rule, and only 25% of the 100 hospitals with the highest revenue.

  • Hospitals were more likely to make their charge data available and to offer a shoppable services tool than to post negotiated rates or cash prices.

The bottom line: "Compliance could be limited because the penalties for noncompliance are minimal (maximum $300 per day) and the costs of disclosure potentially great," the study's authors write.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 15, 2021 - World

The global food price crisis isn't going away

Data: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global food prices have continued to rise throughout the pandemic, and they're now at close to the highest level they've been in decades.

Why it matters: Beyond the hunger and suffering that comes with costlier food, high prices are driving serious political discontent around the world — and there's little relief in sight.

59 mins ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.