Posting Hospital Prices Online

It is billed as a move for health care transparency, but does it really clear up the picture for patients? The federal government is mandating hospitals to post their prices. But hospitals say they can't be exact on the prices. What you will find on their various websites are what's called "chargemaster" amounts. A statement released by ProMedica for example describes these costs as the charges that are almost never billed to a patient or received by a hospital.

This is what is billed to insurance companies, Medicare, or Medicaid, and insurers then apply their contracted rates to the services that are billed. Then the patients cost is based upon the insurance company's contracted rate as opposed to the hospital's chargemaster rate.

If patients are truly trying to compare prices and shop around it takes a lot of time and effort. This may or may not be possible based on whatever medical condition they're dealing with.