Starting January first, a new federal law will require hospitals across the country to publicly post the prices of their medical services online.
The goal of the new law is to help provide patients better information about medical costs.
Not everyone thinks the plan will work so well.
It’s a good idea, says Beth Allison who recently paid thousands for medical care.
Allison says, "I think it’s great. I mean you get stuck with these bills. If I would have known ahead of time that it was that much I would have gone to a different urgent care”.
Allison went in for back spasms. Financial pain came later.
Allison added, "I was in and out in less than an hour and they sent me a bill for 4 thousand dollars. When I asked for an itemized statement they just said it was Level 3 care. And when I said 'what does Level 3 care mean?' They didn’t do anything".
The feds are hoping publicly posting medical pricing will help provide patients better information about out of pocket costs they will face.
Some argue the master list – also called a charge master – will provide prices that don’t reflect the true final cost of services.
Julie Lonborg, of the Colorado Hospital Association says, “… What they’ll see is potentially misleading because their insurance will have negotiated…a rate with an individual hospital and you can’t tell that from the chargemaster (masterlist)…”
Still the federal rule hopes to drive competition, lower costs and prevent patients like Allison form being surprised.
Allison said, "Everybody should know what health care is going to cost.”
Hospitals have been criticized for not being transparent with its prices.
It’s not clear if the new rules will help.
The Colorado Hospital Association says Hospitals in the state are now working on complying with the new state law.
But a warning here, the association says some hospitals could have lists that are 50 thousand lines long.
Lines filled with medical terms and insurance jargon.