Price Transparency Rule ‘Could Change Face’ of Medical Debt Collections: Advocate

Are hospitals costing themselves a lot of money that may have otherwise been recovered in collection lawsuits because of a new requirement which mandates they publish the prices they charge for treatments and procedures on their website? One patient advocate thinks they are, and is saying so in a recently published media report.

The Price Transparency Rule, which went into effect on January 1 is intended to help consumers better understand how much a visit is likely to cost and provide them with more ammunition when shopping or negotiating, especially in cases where they do not have health insurance.

Before the price transparency rule went into effect, it was easy for a representative from a hospital to testify that prices charged to a consumer were “reasonable and customary” when a patient contests a medical debt collection lawsuit. But now that prices are being published online, those assertions will likely not hold the same water they did before the rule went into effect.

The end result is that patients are likely going to be able to “substantially” reduce the amount of their bills “by showing the judge the negotiated price on the hospital’s website,” writes Jackson Williams, vice president of public policy at Dialysis Patient Citizens, an advocacy group.

The objective of the article is to begin a movement that stops hospitals from charging more to patients who do not have medical insurance and who are not able to benefit from the negotiated prices that carriers have worked out with hospitals and healthcare providers. “Consumer advocates can request judges issue a general order prohibiting hospitals’ lawyers from demanding amounts greater than the highest negotiated fee for a given service; seek sanctions for frivolous lawsuits if hospitals’ attorneys do so; and make sure that credit reporting agencies follow the law too,” Williams writes.

One roadblock to this idea is the lack of compliance with the price transparency rule. Williams cites his own research of a dozen different hospital websites that are not providing the information they are supposed to be publishing. In fact, a recently released study indicated that 30% of hospitals are not yet in full compliance with the rule.

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