SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – A trip to the hospital can be costly, but a new federal law that went into effect on Wednesday aims to make hospital costs more transparent by requiring all hospital to list their prices online.
At Sharp Memorial Hospital, for example, prepping a wound costs $1,903. Fixing an Achilles could cost patients more than $10,000.
San Diego State business ethics instructor, Dr. Wendy Patrick said prices listed on hospital websites will not necessarily give patients a full picture because prices will range from hospital to hospital. “Obviously transparency breeds trust, but sometimes it also creates confusion.”
For example, a colonoscopy with a biopsy at Kaiser costs $3,589 while at Scripps it costs $5,462.
“There are all these different kinds of components that factor into the cost of a service that accounts for the wide disparity,” said Dr. Wendy Patrick.
Those components can range from the size of the hospital to the type of equipment being used.
Further, the prices listed online, as mandated by the new law, will not necessarily be the prices patients will be required to pay out of pocket because the prices represent the cost before insurance steps in.
“What would be even more is not only seeing the price of the service but seeing the insurance breakdown of how much it is that they are going to pay,” said Dr. Wendy Patrick.
News 8 reached out to several San Diego hospitals. A Scripps spokesperson said, “The charge master is not a helpful tool to comparison shop” because the charges “depend on the actual patient care services that are delivered, the terms of health insurance coverage and patient eligibility for financial assistance.”
Further, prices would change dramatically if there were complications in a patient’s care.
A spokesperson for the California Hospital Association told News 8 California hospitals have been posting prices for years under a state law.
Prices can now be found on any hospital website.