We all avoid going to the Hospital for a variety of reasons: the long waits in the Emergency Room, the litany of tests that you hope will get some answers, and the infamous hospital bill with charges that make you question if getting medical attention was worth it.

The reality is that there are Federal laws that require Hospitals to be upfront about the numerous costs of Medical Care at their facilities.  The Patient Rights Advocate Group published its Sixth Semi-Annual Hospital Price Transparency Report that revealed only 34.5 percent of United States hospitals are fully compliant with Price Transparency Laws.

In New Jersey, only 13 out of 29 Hospitals are fully complying with the federal Hospital Price Transparency Law, according to The Patient Rights Advocate Group.

What is Hospital Price Transparency?

According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), standard charges must be posted. There are two options for this.

This can be in the form of a machine-readable file, "Single machine-readable digital file containing the following standard charges for all items and services provided by the hospital."

The other option is a display of shoppable services, "Display of at least 300 “shoppable services” (or as many as the hospital provides if less than 300) that a health care consumer can schedule in advance."

This law went into effect in January of 2021.

Cape Regional Hospital in Cape May Court House, New Jersey
Photo from Google Maps
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According to the organization, 45 percent of New Jersey Hospitals are fully compliant with federal standards for Price Transparency.

NJ State Senator Joe Vitale has submitted a bill that would localize the enforcement of the federal law.  Because the solution to Hospitals not adhering to one law is to pass another one, right?

Civil monetary penalty notices have been issued to a handful of hospitals nationwide by CMS through their audit sampling. See the full list here.

Turquoise Health, a company that has created search engines for patients to compare healthcare costs also tracks Price Transparency compliance scores hospitals with a star-ratings system. Patients can see how their local hospital scored and what factors were considered.

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Gallery Credit: Megan Carter