The data in the study came from hospitals that disclosed commercial negotiated prices for at least one of the 13 radiology services, as required under the Hospital Price Transparency Final Rule of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The rule took effect January 1, 2021. As of September 6, only about one-third of hospitals disclosed their commercial prices for these common shoppable radiology services.
“Gaining this kind of detailed knowledge of hospital commercial pricing makes it possible for payers and patients to shop for hospital care. No longer blindfolded, payers and patients can identify more affordable hospitals for these routine imaging services,” said Ge Bai, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and the study’s senior author. Bai’s research focuses on pricing, policy, and management within the health care industry.
Co-author John (Xuefeng) Jiang, a professor at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, said, “By reporting the significant price disparities among shoppable services, our research will empower employers, payers, and patients to demand changes. It also confirms policymakers’ concern that lack of transparency has hidden potentially abusive price behaviors.”
The other co-author, Professor Martin Makary of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said, “It’s time we change the lexicon from talking about health care costs to medical prices. Elucidating fair and customary prices in the market will expose egregious outlier prices. Health care prices have been a black box leaving patients vulnerable to price gouging.”
The research was supported by Arnold Ventures, a private investment fund that specializes in health care, education, criminal justice, and public finance.