A Harvard study found “stunning” price variations for common tests across top-ranked hospitals.
Before you shell out money for a service — a home repair or a plane ticket, for example — chances are you shop around first to find the best price. You can’t do that for medical services, however, because of the way our health care system works. Often, you don’t even know how much your health insurer will pay and how much will be your responsibility until the bill arrives.
The new federal Transparency in Coverage rule, which took effect in January 2021, aims to address this problem. Issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the rule requires hospitals to (1) make the prices for every item and service they provide available to the public and (2) create a consumer-friendly tool to enable patients to look up their projected costs for common tests and procedures.
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