- Looking at 2,000 U.S. hospitals’ websites, only about a quarter were in full compliance with federal price transparency rules, according to a new analysis from PatientRightsAdvocate.org.
- The majority of hospitals have some required files posted, but most are incomplete, illegible or do not clearly identify prices both associated with payer and plan, according to the report. Some 6% of the hospitals posted no usable pricing files.
- This latest report calls out both major for-profit and nonprofit chains across the country for not following the rules, including HCA Healthcare, Tenet, Providence and UPMC, which lacked any compliant hospitals.
The federal price transparency rule, created to help patients shop around for care, has been met with widespread noncompliance since its inception.
Under the rule, which took effect nearly two years ago, hospitals must post a list of standard charges for all items and services for all payers and plans, and a standard list for the 300 most common procedures or price estimator tool.
While hospitals have made progress — a previous analysis from the same organization of 1,500 hospitals last February found 14% were complying with the rule — 75% still aren’t complying, according to the latest report, potentially thwarting patients' abilities to make meaningful price comparisons before receiving care.
The report found that ultimately about half of hospitals posted negotiated prices clearly associated with payers and plans, though about half of those hospitals’ pricing data was still missing or incomplete.
Some 20% of hospitals posted a list of common procedures in a consumer-friendly format, though nearly 90% of them posted incomplete files on standard charges, the report found.
And 86% of hospitals published a price estimator tool, but 73% of them also posted incomplete files on standard charges.
In an effort to get more hospitals to share required price data amid widespread noncompliance last year, the HHS boosted the maximum penalty for noncompliant hospitals to as much as $2 million.
So far, the agency has only imposed monetary penalties on two hospitals, which came into compliance immediately afterward, and the HHS has not issued any additional penalties, according to the report.
Two Georgia facilities within the same system were fined a combined $1.1 million in June for failing to post a comprehensive list of standard charges.
The report also identified some hospitals as “backsliding,” or becoming noncompliant after previously being considered compliant.
While some systems lacked compliance, some 58% of CommonSpirit-owned hospitals and 73% of Lifepoint Health hospitals were compliant, the report found.
In a statement to Healthcare Dive, HCA called reports like those from Patients Rights Advocate "flawed," saying its hospitals implemented federal transparency requirements in January 2021, and that its websites include a consumer-focused patient payment tool in addition to posted contracted rates with third-party payers in machine-readable formats.