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South Florida hospital makes price information more accessible to consumers

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As health insurance companies shift more financial responsibility onto consumers through higher deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance rates, hospital executives are feeling pressure to reveal their most closely-held secret: prices.

On Tuesday, Miami Children’s Hospital became one of the first in South Florida to give consumers more information — but not exactly the prices — they need to estimate their out-of-pocket costs, an increasingly important factor when deciding where to seek medical care.

Hospital executives reduced by 30 percent the theoretical prices on chargemasters, the pricing documents that detail all the related charges a patient runs up for services but not the amounts most people actually pay.

The revised prices, said Tim Birkenstock, chief financial officer, will more accurately reflect what Miami Children’s collects from insurers.

That, in turn, should give consumers a reliable reference to estimate their out-of-pocket costs, which will vary depending on their health plan type, benefits and other factors.

However, the amounts insurers pay to Miami Children’s will not change. 

Miami Children’s also is in the process of developing fixed prices for about a half-dozen of the hospital’s most common services, such minor dermatological procedures and wound closures, removal of tonsils and circumcisions. Read more. 

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