New bill would require public hospital pricing

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- A new bill being proposed by lawmakers in Raleigh would require hospitals to post prices for their 50 most common medical procedures and would financially reward hospitals offering lower cost care.

The bill is being proposed by Republican senators Harry Brown of Jacksonville and Bob Rucho of Matthews.

According to the Wall Street Journal, services like emergency room visits, some x-rays, some chemotherapies and knee surgeries are a few examples of the nation's top medical procedures--procedures this new bill would require the cost to be posted.

Lawmakers say the idea behind the legislation is to take the surprise out of medical costs and give patients a chance to make informed choices and shop around before deciding where to go for their care.

"We are in an instant accessibility economy so I think expectations have changed around how people consume their healthcare," says Bob Seehausen of Novant Healthcare.

Seehausen says he is not surprised such legislation is being proposed since consumers are now wanting more information on out-of-pocket costs.

While Novant does not post prices, they do have Financial Navigators that walk individual patients through procedure costs, insurance coverage and out-of-pocket expenses.

"We think it's important for patients to have an understanding of their procedure the last thing you want is to have some minor or major healthcare event and have a financial surprise on top of it," says Seehausen.

Seehausen says while the legislation is a good idea, it won't be easy to just post prices in some sort of menu format. There are many federal guidelines, insurance differences and patient differences that make each procedure unique.

"The coding that is used in healthcare, a lot of it is driven by federal regulations and it is very complex," says Seehausen.

The bill has many more steps to through before it could become law.

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