Another study shows hospitals not complying with price transparency regs

The Trump administration finalized regulations in 2019 requiring hospitals to publicly post prices by January 1, 2021. Health policy researchers have been hungry to gather and analyze this information but far too many hospitals are still not giving them what the federal rules require.

So, instead of analyzing the data, researchers have been left to focus more on publishing articles exposing this lack of compliance. The latest study published last week in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research finds that less than one-third of hospitals provide the required pricing information for knee and hip replacements.

This study is based off a review of 400 hospital websites conducted from December 1 to 20, 2021. That’s nearly a year after the rule went into effect and over two years since the rule was finalized.

The fact that hospitals continue to drag their feet reveals an ongoing lack of good faith which demonstrates why the federal requirements were desperately needed.

Too many hospitals operated in bad faith in the past. This study noted research showing that the percentage of hospitals unwilling to provide any pricing information for a total hip replacement increased from 14 percent to 44 percent between 2012 and 2016.

This new study also shows Minnesota hospitals are among those still acting in bad faith, at least as of the time of the study.

One of the first studies on compliance came out of the University of Minnesota in June 2021. This study found less than a quarter of the 470 hospitals reviewed were in compliance.

In a news article covering this study, the Star Tribune reported, “Officials at the Minnesota Hospital Association say that all hospitals here have been fully compliant with the federal requirement.”

That was not true then and this new study shows that was not true in December 2021. Among the 400 hospitals reviewed, nine were located in Minnesota. Of those hospitals, only Methodist and St. Joseph’s in St. Paul were fully compliant.

Likewise, the group also included nine Minnesota hospitals among the 1,000 hospitals they reviewed for compliance from December 7, 2021 to January 28, 2022. Of those hospitals, only the Mayo Clinic was fully compliant.   

Due to this lack of compliance and ongoing bad faith on the part too many Minnesota hospitals, American Experiment has recommended giving the Minnesota Department of Health the authority to enforce federal price transparency rules, including the power to issue fines equal to the federal amounts.  Bills were introduced in both the Senate and the House to implement these policies. However, without a special session this summer, it appears they will need to wait until next year.