Get Hospitals To Show You The Tab – It’s The Law | Notice






Mason Kochel


Many New studies show that the vast majority of US hospitals do not comply with a new federal rule which took effect at the beginning of the year requiring them to display their real prices for care. The actual pricing information allows healthcare consumers to purchase quality, cheaper alternatives that can cut ridiculous healthcare costs for patients in Colorado and nationwide.

I can speak firsthand about the importance of lowering health care prices. I have a severe nut allergy which causes allergic reactions which may require epinephrine to be treated. Earlier this year, I was at a friend’s house for dinner. I’m careful to avoid foods that can cause an allergic reaction, but the spaghetti sauce I ate contained cashew butter that I didn’t know about. This triggered an allergic reaction which caused vomiting and swelling in the throat, restricting my breathing. I was scared of what would happen if my condition got worse, so my friend drove me to the nearest emergency room in Grand Junction.

While I was there, I was unable to keep my anti-allergic medication on, so the hospital admitted me and put me on an IV to stabilize the reaction. I was treated briefly by a triage nurse and doctor. The visit lasted about two hours. I was released with an EpiPen, a portable epinephrine auto-injector, in case I had a similar reaction in the future.

Because I’m still on my mom’s health insurance plan, neither she nor I worried about the bill that followed. So imagine our shock when it arrived several weeks later showing that the hospital billed our insurance plan $ 18,373, of which we owed $ 4,697 directly. We were in a state of panic.

I demanded an itemized hospital bill which finally arrived months later. He said the hospital billed $ 15,043 for the EpiPen. EpiPens can be purchased at the pharmacy for around $ 330 for a two-pack, which means the hospital charged around 100 times more than the market price. As an added insult, the EpiPen the hospital gave me expired in just three weeks, making it virtually useless.

With the help of a patient advocacy group, I appealed this outrageous bill. I quoted the actual EpiPens price and lower standard charges on the hospital website for my other care. Acknowledging their blatant billing practices, the hospital apologized and waived the bill.

All patients can follow my lead and fight such price increases by viewing the new hospital price lists, which include both cash and contract rates, demanded by the new rule of transparency of hospital prices. Best of all, consumers can view these actual prices before care for financial security and identify high-quality, low-cost care for the overwhelming majority of non-emergency healthcare spending.

Needless to say, if I had known the hospital was trying to charge $ 15,000 for an EpiPen, I would have turned it down in favor of my local pharmacy. Real prices can put patients in control of their healthcare decisions, allowing them to generate substantial savings through their choices.

Unfortunately, many hospitals still does not comply with this rule to display their actual prices. And those who follow it often make it difficult to access their pricing information. I had to download and analyze a huge spreadsheet to find my treatment prices.

To make the actual prices more prevalent and more user-friendly, patients should demand them in advance before receiving care. Government officials can also increase hospital compliance by enforcing it more rigorously. Such actions can usher in a transparent market that makes healthcare affordable and accessible, just like all other sectors of the economy where real prices reign.

Mason Kochel is a sophomore at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

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