SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) — A federal law requires hospitals to tell you the cost of a service before you are treated.
The Hospital Price Transparency Act came into force in January 2021. But more than a year later, some facilities have not fully complied, including some in Missouri.
“Patients have had to pay with a blank check while being hit with sometimes much outrageous bills that exceeded their expectations,” said Cynthia Fisher, founder of patientrightsadvocate.org.
Data collected by the group shows that Americans pay twice as many health care fees than any other developed country.
“The reality is that hospitals, insurance companies, big pharma, pharmacy benefits managers, all of these middle players are capitalizing on a patient’s misfortune. Greed has run amok. It’s our money paying for both health care and coverage, so keeping the consumer in the dark just wasn’t the right thing to do,” Fisher said. “What made me start patientenrightsadvocate.org was that too many people I knew who had good jobs and jobs and health care were devastated with overwhelming medical debt that was bankrupting them.”
According to the Advocacy Groups’ biannual study of US hospitals, only 16% of hospitals in the country comply with the law. In Missouri, that number is falling.
Fisher said: “It’s one of the lower-ranking states for those who comply with the regulations. We examined 39 hospitals and only 3 complied with the regulations.”
Mercy Hospitals has been identified as not fully compliant although they have a cost estimation tool on their website. When asked about the Patient Rights Advocate report, we received this statement, which reads:
“Mercy works diligently to ensure compliance with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Price Transparency Rule. Mercy Hospital Springfield has not been fined by CMS this year, nor has it received notification of a violation of the rules.”
“We all know how to shop. We all know how to save our own money. Because of this, pricing transparency in healthcare is truly transformative as it empowers patients to take control of their financial spending and their healthcare decisions,” said Fisher.
In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fined two hospitals a total of more than $1 million for non-compliance. The agency says it will continue to probe hospitals to make sure consumers have pricing information.
According to the report, Cox hospitals were complying with the regulations.
A full copy of this report can be found here.
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