Some Hospitals Miss Deadline for Reporting Pricing Lists To State Agency
About 60% of California hospitals have met a July 1 deadline to submit their pricing schedules to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the agency said, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2).
A 2003 state law requires hospitals to report their prices for supplies and services to the health agency. The law does not require hospitals to disclose how they determine a price (California Healthline, 1/3).
About 259 of the state's 422 acute care medical centers had submitted the information as of Friday afternoon, the Chronicle reports. Hospitals that submit the data after the deadline will not be penalized, the agency said.
The state will send reminders to hospitals that missed the deadline (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2).
The price lists, or "chargemasters," can be hundreds of pages long and list prices for thousands of items and services, the Los Angeles Times reports. The data show "how dramatically prices vary" among hospitals, the Times reports. For example, the price for a brain scan is $2,813 at San Dimas Community Hospital and $1,650.51 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
According to the Times, it is difficult to compare hospital prices for similar procedures because the law does not require hospitals to use standard definitions for supplies and services.
Kenny Kwong, an official in the health agency, said that estimating the cost of an operation from the price lists would be "like estimating the price of a brake job by looking at a parts price list."
Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale), who introduced the bill that created the price disclosure requirement, said consumers "ought to have this information ... where they can get the best health care for the best price" (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 7/2).
A CD-ROM version of the hospital data will be available to the public for $10 in a few weeks, John Kriege, acting deputy director of the agency's information division, said (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2).