Hospital Prices Now Posted Online

CHARLOTTE, NC -A new federal law is supposed to make shopping for health care easier, but finding the best care can be difficult when having to navigate through pages and pages of medical jargon listed on hospital’s websites.

“Most consumers across about all economic levels aren’t ready for that kind of challenge,” said Don Jonas, with the nonprofit Care Ring.

The federal law requires hospitals to post “machine readable” lists of typical charges.

“While they are following the letter of the law, they are still making it very difficult for consumers to figure out exactly what it is they’re being charged for,” explained Jonas.

He says price transparency is a step in the right direction, but it needs to be made much simpler so patients can make better decisions.

“Most consumers are that way, at any level, is to try and figure out what it’s going to cost,” said Jonas.

Pulling together costs for medical tape, injections, surgeries, and anticipating complications can be a challenge in itself. On Novant’s website, you must know the type of procedure and keywords to search for.

“They’re not by cases, they’re just a la carte,” said Colleen Dey.

She is the administrator for Carolina Family Healthcare. She’s in favor of more price transparency.

“Hopefully it will bring some of this pricing down because it is kind of out of hand,” said Dey.

She says there should be a standard for how prices are listed and they should be grouped by procedure and not each item.

“Every hospital has their own numbering system,” explained Dey, “their own abbreviations and it can be very difficult.”

Atrium Health and Novant sent WCCB statements saying the prices on their sites may not really show what a patient will pay out of pocket. They say there are a number of factors including varying insurance plans and Medicare payments.

Both hospitals encourage patients to ask for an estimate before receiving services.

DHS Transparency search CLICK HERE

Atrium Charge List CLICK HERE

Novant Charge List CLICK HERE