U.S. hospitals to post online list of medical costs

If you're laying in a hospital bed the cost of the medications and procedures may not be top of mind, but it can certainly be a shock when you get that medical bill in the mail.

But that will change next week, price transparency is coming to U.S. hospitals.

Prices vary from hospital to hospital, and they can all depend on what your insurance company negotiates with hospitals.

A new federal rule requires all hospitals to post an online list of the cost of their standard services. This will allow patients to be able to compare prices before seeking treatment.

Currently, under the affordable care act, hospitals must release public price lists. But the new rule, which was announced in April, requires them to post these prices online in a format that can be downloaded to computers.

The rule also applies to rehabilitation facilities and inpatient psychiatric hospitals.

Hospitals will be required to update these price lists at least once each year.

While the online lists are a start, some hospital officials warn that the public price lists may not look anything like what you end up actually paying. Because prices will still vary depending on the rates the hospitals negotiate with insurance companies.

The new requirements start January 1st and apply to hospitals nationwide. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare say hospitals that don't make a public list of standard charges will not be in compliance with the law, but have not said how that will be enforced.

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