A new report by Patient Rights Advocate shows many Illinois hospitals are not transparent on pricing despite new laws to require them to do so.
An executive order from President Joe Biden reinforces a Hospital Price Transparency rule that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
The rule requires hospitals to publish a document online that outlines payment rates. It also requires hospitals to provide a price comparison tool.
The report surveyed the websites of 500 of the roughly 6,000 hospitals subject to the rule. According to the report, 471 hospitals or 94.4% of the 500 total hospitals failed to comply with the rule.
Of those 471 hospitals, Illinois is home to nine of them. The hospitals included in the Patient Rights Advocate study that did not comply with the price transparency laws were:
- Advocate Christ Medical Center
- Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital
- Carle Foundation Hospital
- Edward Hospital - Main Campus
- Evanston Hospital
- Loyola University Medical Center
- Rush University Medical Center
- University of Chicago Medical Center
The one hospital in Illinois that was included in the study that was listed as complying with the price transparency law was Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Northwestern Memorial and Rush University did not return a request for comment.
Cynthia Fisher, the founder of Patient Rights Advocate, said a number of Illinois hospitals overcharge patients and that people should always double-check the prices of services to avoid the risk of being overcharged.
"If you have to go to a hospital for treatment, I would advise you to always get upfront pricing first and to make sure the billing matches that price," Fisher said. "If the prices do not match after billing, get recourse."
Fisher also told a story of how one of her clients was charged more $15,000 for a service that he could have gotten at a pharmacy for $320 dollars.
"When he left the hospital, they handed him an EpiPen. The price of this EpiPen ended up being $15,000," Fisher said. "When he looked online and saw that at a pharmacy nearby he could have gotten one for $320."
Fisher said she hopes this study shows the problem with hospitals not following this law and hopes that it gives the power back to the people who need the help.
"This is how we're going prevent the overcharging and address unfair medical bills," Fisher said. "It really gives power to the patients to not only get straight-up upfront prices but to make sure their bills match that price."