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Arizona patients now know the price

In addition to continuing rising costs of health care, another concern for patients in Arizona is the wildly different costs of the same procedure, depending on where you go for the procedure. Now, a new law is calling attention to these varying costs.

Beginning on January 1st, hospitals and healthcare providers in Arizona are now required to post the out-of-pocket costs for some of their most common procedures. As required by HB 2045, signed into law last June by Governor Brewer, healthcare providers must post the direct pay cost for their 25 most common services and hospitals are required to post the prices for their 50 most common services. Senator Nancy Barto (R-15) sponsored the amendment to the bill that put in place these requirements.

In a study done by the University of California San Francisco, healthcare costs vary widely between states and even between communities. For example, a patient could pay $21,000 to treat heart failure in Denver, Colorado or $9,000 for the same procedure in Jackson, Mississippi.

The HealthCare Incentives Improvement Institute gave Arizona an “F” rating for healthcare transparency. “Arizonans simply don’t know what they could be paying for a procedure if they are paying for it themselves or through a Health Savings Account. All they know is what their co-pay is,” says Senator Barto, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services.

In an attempt to fix this, Senator Barto followed the lead of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which began posting their prices for services online five years ago. This, according to the New York Times, has led other healthcare providers in the area to post their prices, driving down costs.

Senator Barto’s goal is to lower the enormous cost of healthcare for Arizonans. “With more people having higher deductibles or not having insurance altogether, knowing how much an operation or procedures costs is incredibly important. How can we lower medical bills if patients are buying health care with no idea what it costs? Now that the bill has passed, people need to make sure that their healthcare providers are following the law and they are getting the true cost of their healthcare.”

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