Policy, Hospitals

New York governor proposes hospital price transparency tool

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to launch a website where patients can compare the cost of procedures at hospitals around the state.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to launch a tool next year to make it easy to compare the cost and quality of hospital procedures across the state. He announced the proposal on Friday as part of his 2020 agenda.

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The effort is one of many the state has made to combat soaring medical costs. Between 2013 and 2017, New York’s healthcare spending grew faster than almost all other states, according to a report released in July by the New York State Health Foundation. By 2017, New York had the 8th-highest per-person spending in the U.S., at $6,335.

In the past few years, New York has taken measures to tamp down on opaque billing practices. For instance, the state was one of the first to pass legislation preventing surprise bills, or the costly bills patients face when they are seen by an out-of-network doctor at an in-network hospital.

“New York has made tremendous progress protecting consumers from unreasonably expensive medical care,” Cuomo said in a news release. “But the cost of many healthcare procedures has risen in recent years in part because consumers don’t have an easy way to compare prices at different hospitals in their area. This new website will give New Yorkers the facts they need to make informed decisions about the cost and quality of healthcare procedures – helping increase competition in the marketplace and driving down prices.”

Cuomo plans to work with the Department of Health, Department of Financial Services and the New York State Digital and Media Services Center to create a website called NYHealthcareCompare. In addition to providing price, quality and volume metrics for hospitals, the tool will also include resources for consumers, such as what to do about a surprise bill and their options for financial assistance.

The website would be another tool to help patients calculate healthcare costs. But it still has some limitations: it only lists provider charges. Without information on the prices hospitals negotiate with insurers, it will still be difficult for patients to calculate their out-of-pocket costs.

The price of a procedure can vary widely depending on the hospital and location. For example, in New York City, the average list price for an outpatient excision and biopsy in 2017 ranged from $3,512 to $21,382, depending on the hospital. Across the board, Medicare paid less than $1,200, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Provider Outpatient Hospital Charge Data.


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