Ongoing Challenges with Hospital Price Transparency

Since 2021, federal law has required hospitals to publicly post information about their standard prices and negotiated discount rates for common health services to encourage consumers to compare prices and to promote competition.

This analysis examines transparency data currently shared by hospitals to comply with the law and finds that they are messy, inconsistent and confusing, making it challenging, if not impossible, for patients or researchers to use them for their intended purpose. Drawing on hospital price transparency data compiled by Turquoise Health, the analysis includes examples that illustrate the difficulty in drawing meaningful conclusions from available data.

Many of these shortcomings stem from a lack of specificity and standardization in the requirements for what hospitals must report and how they report it. To address these challenges, federal regulators have suggested specific ways for hospitals to format and validate their data, but hospitals are not required to follow that guidance.

The analysis is available through the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an online information hub that monitors and assesses the performance of the U.S. health system.

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