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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

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Jun 14, 2021 - Health

Most top hospitals charge a more than 5x markup

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Some of the hospitals with the highest revenue in the country also have some of the highest prices, charging an average of 10 times more than the actual cost of the care they deliver, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: Hospitals each determine their own charges, or list prices. While few patients ever pay those prices, due to negotiated insurance rates, they do affect the uninsured and, experts say, ultimately influence the overall price we all pay.

Jun 14, 2021 - Health

America's biggest hospitals vs. their patients

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

More than a quarter of the 100 U.S. hospitals with the highest revenue sued patients over unpaid medical bills between 2018 and mid-2020, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The report suggests that, rather than being an anomaly, patient lawsuits are relatively common across the country and among the largest providers.

Jun 14, 2021 - Health

Public spotlight on hospital lawsuits may slow them down

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Hospitals sued patients much less often in 2020 than in the previous two years, and there are signs that this may signify change that lasts beyond the pandemic, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Between the lines: Some hospitals that received a lot of negative publicity over their billing practices stopped suing patients altogether.