Obscured in Transparency: Health Care Quality and Hospital Price Disclosure

On January 1, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began requiring hospitals to disclose online lists of charges.1 At first glance, this is a welcome regulation designed to improve cost transparency, promote competition, reduce discrepancy, and minimize unanticipated patient financial burdens. However, features of the regulation may undermine its benefits to patients navigating the US medical billing system. This commentary addresses some of the policy’s general limitations and, using its potential impact on diagnostic imaging quality as a paradigm, illustrates possible unintended negative consequences of its implementation.

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