November 02, 2015
Patients often have a tough time answering one simple question about their health care: How much will it cost?
A hospital network based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is trying to increase transparency by posting prices for around 80 common procedures and tests online, Newsworks reported.
St. Luke's "pricechecker" is available online at pricechecker.slhn.org.
Patients agree to pay those prices up front, but the hospital still bills insurance. Then, if the price is cheaper through insurance, the patient gets a refund. If the patient would have had to pay more through insurance, the hospital takes the loss.
The patients benefit from getting a deal; the hospital benefits because it won't get stuck with an unpaid bill. St. Luke's Vice President of Finance Francine Botek told Newsworks that more patients are using high-deductible plans where they pay more out of pocket, which means more patients are asking about costs.
The price includes the cost of doing the procedure plus images or X-rays and post-op visits. However, it doesn't include the cost of pre-surgery services like lab tests, doctor visits and EKGs. The patient will also have to pay extra if something comes up during the surgery and the patient unexpectedly needs additional procedures.
These retail prices are only available for St. Luke's hospitals in Pennsylvania and are not available to people on government insurance like Medicare or Medicaid.
Read the full story here.