Hospitals begin posting prices online, but is it helping patients?

A new federal law took effect Jan. 1 requiring all hospitals post their list prices online. But, as it turns out, what appears online may end up confusing price-conscious patients more than helping them.

For instance, a recent report by Fox WRSP Illinois attempted to compare the cost of a brain MRI between three hospitals in the southern portion of the state—HSHS St. Johns in Springfield, Memorial Medical Center in Springfield and Carle Hospital in Urbana. All that came up were a jumble of codes and price tags.

It was not until “hours” of analysis and the help of hospital officials that the prices came into focus, according to the report. At Carle Hospital, the MRI would cost $4,270. At Memorial, the scan would cost $3,886, and at HSHS St. John’s it amounted to $3,710.

“The fact of the matter is it's just not a very useful tool for people to understand what the price is," said Jay Roszhart, vice president of ambulatory networks and clinical integration at Memorial Medical Center, to Fox Illinois.

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