Minnesota Hospital Price Check: Comparing Apples and Oranges

St. Paul, Minnesota -- Citizens' Council on Health Care questions the usefulness of the new hospital pricing website, Minnesota Hospital Price Check, being released online today.

"The Minnesota Hospital Association's website does not provide prices. It lists hospital charges. If patients must check with their health insurers to actually get a price, what's the value of knowing a hospital charge?" asks Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

CCHC includes the following as additional reasons why the association's website will not be very relevant to consumer insurance purchases or medical decision making by patients.

1) COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES: Prices represent a bundling of various services and personnel provided for each procedure. Different hospitals provide different services with different types of personnel. Patients will not know what or who is included in the listed charge for each hospital.

2) PRICE IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS ITS OUT-OF-POCKET: The only price that patients care about is the number representing actual dollars coming out of their own pockets. The association's website does not provide that information. If there was a website that gave information on out-of-pocket costs according to each health insurance plan, that might prove more relevant to patients and to purchasers of health insurance.

3) NETWORKS RESTRICT CHOICE: Many health plans limit the patient's choice of hospital or doctor or both. They may also have higher out-of-pocket charges for different hospitals, leaving patients with little reason to go price-shopping between hospitals.

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President
Phone: 651-646-8935 (office)
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