Hospitals to Post Prices Online, But Does It Really Help?

2019 opens with a step toward price transparency, but consumers still can’t find what they’ll pay.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Kaiser Health News reported last week that, as of January 1, the Trump administration is requiring all hospitals to post their prices online. While any step toward price transparency is a good one, it still doesn’t help consumers predict what they’ll actually spend for services.

On these price lists, also known as chargemasters, services are labeled in cryptic descriptions and codes (like this one, mentioned in the article: “Arthrocentesis Aspir&/Inj Small Jt/Bursa w/o Us”). What’s more confusing to the consumer, these services are tied to prices that represent the hospital’s full list price, not the price a patient with health coverage can expect to pay. Those prices are negotiated between the patient’s health plan and the hospital and, as KHN reports, are considered trade secrets.

At Blink, we’re excited to see price transparency becoming a greater priority within healthcare. But we’ll be even more excited when more players start publishing prices that can help consumers predict and plan for their actual out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

We’re leading by example: when a patient gets a prescription, they can look up the medication on Blink Health. The patient can see before they purchase, exactly how much they would pay through Blink, and get the info they need to successfully compare out-of-pocket costs and predict their spending. If other players in the healthcare system could offer the same kind of consumer-facing price transparency, patients everywhere would benefit.


Savings on retail prices without coverage. Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 233 Spring Street, 8th Floor East, New York, NY 10013, (844) 366–2211, www.blinkhealth.com. See website for state-by-state availability.