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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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.