The new year brought a new law that you may not have noticed, but could save you some money.
The Trump administration spearheaded a requirement that, as of January 1, hospitals must post prices for services, drugs and supplies on their websites. Separately, they have to post total cost — including physician fees, operating room cost, hospital room charges and other related expenses — for 300 common procedures such as delivery of a baby or a hip replacement.
The information includes discounts they negotiate with insurance companies and price breaks they give patients who pay cash.
Hospitals aren't too happy about this. There are usually a wide range of prices for various procedures, prescription drugs and supplies, depending on the deals negotiated. And that variance might well strike some patients as blatantly unfair — especially those patients who aren't in a position to benefit from discounts offered to others.
The requirement to post total cost for common procedures will aid consumers in shopping for the best deal. Insured patients may find they get a better deal by paying cash. And employers could offer incentives to insured employees who choose lower cost facilities.
Health insurance companies will have to do something similar starting next year. A move to make prescription drug manufacturers to post their range of prices failed to survive a court challenge.
In our view, transparency is good. And health care consumers will benefit from this information is they use it wisely.