Encourage Transparency in Hospital Service Pricing


Target: California Department of Public Health

Goal: Provide patients with detailed cost information for in-patient procedures and treatments

Federal officials have released Medicare data illustrating overwhelming variations between hospitals’ procedure prices. The data came from hospitals across the United States, including prices for the 100 most common in-patient procedures and treatments. Price variations should only reflect differences in cost of living, wages, and type of patient treated, but some recorded discrepancies are too large to be explained by these factors. Hospital prices within the Los Angeles Area alone reflect differences as large as 700 percent.

Deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Jonathan Blum states In a Los Angeles Times report that the price variations do not make sense. Along with Medicare and Medicaid, the California Hospital Association supports greater price transparency between hospitals and patients.

Pricing information often confuses patients because total procedure costs are not all that most patients pay. Private health insurers also contribute a percentage of total costs, and Medicare may pay an additional fixed amount. Creating greater transparency affords patients a better understanding of how their procedures are priced, allowing them to make better decisions regarding healthcare. This forces hospitals to remain accountable for their pricing structures. Some hospitals may inflate prices because many health insurers pay costs based on percentage, allowing hospitals to collect more from these providers. In addition, hospitals that treat many low-income and uninsured patients are able to write off greater charges.

While California and over forty other states require or encourage price information be made public, the data hospitals provide lacks clarity for the average patient. Sign the petition below and urge the California Department of Public Health to set patient-friendly guidelines regarding public hospital price information.


Dear California Department of Public Health,

Patients have grown even more confused about healthcare costs after federal officials released Medicare data illustrating large price variations between hospital in-patient procedures. Within the Los Angeles area, same procedure prices between hospitals varied by as much as 700 percent.

Patients have the right to know how their medical costs are calculated. Creating a standard set of guidelines that outline the specific data hospitals need to share will help patients understand their price structures. This knowledge will allow them to make better decisions regarding healthcare. In addition to helping patients, standardized guidelines will force hospitals to be accountable, and will deter them from inflating prices for monetary gain.

In addition to the California Hospital Association, the American Hospital Association supports and encourages greater transparency between hospitals and the public. Creating standardized guidelines will help California hospitals achieve this.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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