By: Susie Wallace | Category: Special Interest | Issue: February 2008
Craig W. Jones, president,Oklahoma Hospital Association
Oklahoma hospitals unveiled a user-friendly Web site today that allows consumers to view inpatient prices for hospitals in their communities. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Web site is part of an overall effort by Oklahoma hospitals to voluntarily make price and quality information available to the public. The Web site, OKHospitalPricing.org, currently enables consumers to search a database of hospital prices for most inpatient hospital admissions.
“Oklahoma hospitals are taking an important first step toward being more transparent with the public about pricing information in order to assist patients in making health care decisions,” said Craig W. Jones, president, Oklahoma Hospital Association. “Hospital pricing is very complex and this site is designed to make the information as meaningful as possible. We will continue to work toward that goal.” The Association plans to add outpatient price data to OKHospitalPricing.org and to unveil a quality transparency Web site within the next year.
At OKHospitalPricing.org, consumers can conduct searches for inpatient procedures and diagnoses, such as a C-section or total knee replacement. Pricing information for these services is taken from inpatient discharge data reported to and provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
For each inpatient service at a selected hospital, OKHospitalPricing users can see the average length of stay and the average and median charges for the service at that hospital.
The pricing information provided does not necessarily represent what a patient will pay for these hospital services. In most cases out-of-pocket hospital costs for privately insured patients are determined by their health insurance policies, which have negotiated specific discounts through contracts with a hospital or health system and do not reflect actual charges. The patient’s out-of-pocket cost will also depend on the benefit design of their insurance. In addition, hospitals have charity care policies that apply to patients who do not have the ability to pay. Oklahoma hospitals provide more than $500 million each year in uncompensated care.
“The Web site is designed to provide the patient a better understanding of the average cost of a hospital stay, not an absolute cost of their stay,” said Jones. “While this is an initial step in providing price information to consumers, we are hopeful that we can work with other providers as well as insurers to make even more meaningful information available to the public in the future.”
Additional information on the Web site allows users to understand how hospitals’ prices compare to the amount these facilities actually collect for services provided. Charts describe the portion of charges for which hospitals are actually paid for the three major kinds of health care coverage – private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
The Web site will also include links to hospitals’ Web sites, charity care policies (if available online) and/or a phone number to call at the hospital for additional information.
The information on the site is designed to increase hospital/consumer interaction and patients are encouraged to discuss the information with their physician, hospital and insurance company. Oklahoma hospitals also plan to unveil a quality transparency Web site within the next year.
OKHospitalPricing.org is made available by the Oklahoma Hospital Association and the Oklahoma Hospital Education & Research Foundation Trust on behalf of Oklahoma hospitals.
Established in 1919, the Oklahoma Hospital Association represents more than 125 hospitals and entities across the state of Oklahoma. Go to www.okoha.com.