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New federal rule will soon require hospitals to post prices online

Posted at 6:28 PM, Dec 26, 2018

WASHINGTON — A new federal regulation will soon require hospitals to post their standard prices online and make electronic medical records more readily available to patients.

The program will require hospitals to disclose prices publicly starting Jan. 1. But it may still prove to be confusing to consumers, since standard rates are like list prices and don’t reflect what insurers and government programs pay.

Patients concerned about their potential out-of-pocket costs from a hospitalization would still be advised to consult with their insurer. Most insurance plans nowadays have an annual limit on how much patients must pay in copays and deductibles — although traditional Medicare does not.

Likewise, many health care providers already make computerized records available to patients, but starting in 2021 Medicare would base part of a hospital’s payments on how good a job they do.