AUGUSTA, GA. (WFXG) -
The new year came with some new guidelines for hospitals across the nation to follow. Medicare now requires hospitals to post standard prices online and make electronic medical records easily available for patients.
On her way to a doctor’s appointment, Marlene Moore told FOX 54 she’s happy hospitals are posting their prices and medical records online. It’s a new federal requirement that went into effect this year.
“We can have an active part in our healthcare,” Moore said.
Moore said the transparency would have been helpful when her mother was alive.
“She had a couple of hospital stays and we needed to understand what she was being charged for in the end before they started billing her for these costs for her hospital stays," said Moore.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator told the Associated Press the new requirements reflect the Trump Administration’s efforts to make patients better-educated decision makers in their own care.
Moore added, "Overall, we need to get a better handle on the cost of our medical treatment because it will help us to better plan for procedures and understand where we’re headed when we have to have special work done to maintain our health.”
Augusta University Health (AU Health) embraces the move but said the posted prices could get confusing.
“There are discounts that are based on individual insurance plans and benefits policies. So, the majority of our patients pay an amount that’s far less than the standard charges, or gross charges." said AU Health Vice President of Revenue Cycle Joseph Koons.
For example, take a CT scan that hypothetically costs $2,300 and you are insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield. The amount you owe may equal only your deductible amount of $500.
Koons said it’s a step towards making healthcare more transparent but it’s not a simple solution.
The hospital plans to give patients a better way to shop for healthcare with a tool on their website in the coming months.
“Which will become more meaningful at that point because we’ll take the total charge, the gross charge amount along with the patients' individual insurance and we’ll calculate the out of pocket expense for that test or procedure," Koons said.
He recommends patients contact their insurance plan in order to understand the benefits associated with your anticipated medical procedure.
Koons also said the hospital offers discounts for people without insurance and with financial difficulties. Qualifying patients could receive free care. Call the hospital at (706) 721-8954 if you have additional questions.
Aiken Regional Medical Centers Media Statement
Per the CMS rule on Inpatient Prospective Payments, hospitals are required to publicly display their standard charges online. The rule is intended to help improve access to hospital price information and enable patients to better understand what healthcare services cost.
Aiken Regional Medical Centers now has a new online pricing list on its website where the general public can access this information.