How to Find Your Hospital's Price List

Photo: Daria Shevtsova (Pexels)

The actual cost of anything at a hospital is a mystery until you get the bill, but as of January 1, 2019, hospitals must post a list of all their prices online. It can be confusing, near-unreadable, and hard to find, but it’s there. Somewhere.

Quartzy looked for these lists on hospital websites, and has posted direct links to 115 of them. The fastest way, they found, was to google:

We searched for the name of each hospital, along with the terms “price list,” “standard charges,” “standard prices,” and/or “chargemaster” (as well as using the alternative spellings/phrasings “charge master” or “charge description master”).

Some hospitals didn’t post them, and phone calls and emails didn’t seem to help. This is not a well functioning system, but perhaps it is a start.

There’s another problem: the lists are required to be “machine readable,” so that somebody could someday make an app that helps you find and compare prices. In the meantime, they’re pretty hard for humans to read:

Here’s another caveat: these aren’t necessarily the prices you (or your insurance) will pay. Hospitals negotiate prices with each insurance company, and they don’t always have to tell you the negotiated prices, which can substantially less than these “chargemaster” list prices. Still, this is a starting point, and we hope somebody is working on an easier-to-use version of this information.

US hospitals are now required by law to post prices online. Good luck finding them. | Quartzy

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