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The California Attorney General issued a consumer alert reminding Californians of their right to access hospital price information online pursuant to federal regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2021.

According to the Attorney General announcement, “a significant number of hospitals, including those in California, have refused to comply. In fact, the regulations were amended in 2022 to increase penalties for noncompliance in response. Recent reports have indicated that many hospitals are still not in compliance. With today’s alert, DOJ strongly urges hospitals to comply with these laws and encourages consumers to assist DOJ’s efforts in tracking noncompliance by filing a complaint with the department here.”

The federal government has strong laws in place to provide healthcare transparency, which includes requiring hospitals to publish online annually the price of all their items and services, such as supplies and procedures, room and board, facility fees, physician professional charges, and shoppable services, such as imaging and laboratory services, medical and surgical procedures, and outpatient clinic visits. In today’s alert, Attorney General Bonta urges Californians seeking medical attention to do their research to learn more about the price transparency information available to them, including:

– – A Description of Each Item, Service, or Shoppable Service: This may include any code used by the hospital for accounting or billing purposes.
– – Gross Charge: The charge that applies absent any discounts.
– – Payer-Specific Negotiated Charge: The discounted rate the hospital has negotiated with a third-party payer, such as your medical insurer.Each charge must be clearly associated with the name of the third-party payer and plan.
– – De-Identified Minimum Negotiated Charge: The lowest charge the hospital has negotiated with a third-party payer, including with your medical insurer.
– – De-Identified Maximum Negotiated Charge: The highest charge the hospital has negotiated with a third-party payer, including with your medical insurer.
– – Discounted Cash Price: The price for those who pay cash. Hospitals that do not provide a cash discount for a shoppable service must provide the gross charge for the service.

If a hospital is not complying with these requirements, a complaint can be filed with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) here. You may also file a consumer complaint with the California DOJ here.

More hospital price transparency information through CMS.