MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - When asked if a new regulation requiring hospitals to post their prices in the form of a document called chargemasters was a step towards medical bill transparency, Russell Meyers, the CEO of Midland Memorial hospital, had this to say.
“It is a step towards transparency, it’s not a big step but I think you gotta take the first step somewhere and its not wrong, and wasn’t particularly hard to comply with the way they rolled it out.”
Meyers also said he wants his patients to know that his company is willing to help with questions when it comes to billing, but those answers won’t likely be coming out of a chargemaster.
“What we’ve told people who have an interest in determining what they might be responsible for paying is to call us, sit down and talk to us, and let us work with you to understand what service you’re gonna get from us. Then we can generally estimate within a range to what your out of pocket cost is gonna be for that service,” said Meyers
That’s because he thinks the Midland Memorial Hospital’s chargemaster like others around the country isn’t useful to consumers in their current format which often features long drawn out coded language and hundreds of pages.
“I think what the federal government wanted and I think why the chargemaster is kind of hard to decipher they wanted something in a machine readable format, in hopes that there would be companies out there that would take that information, aggregate it among hospital and make comparisons and then publish it in a way that would be useful to the consumer,” said Meyers.
Looking at the bigger picture, Meyers admits that paying for healthcare is complicated due to the nature of business between providers and insurance companies.
“Well its reality for the consumer, and I think those insurance companies for the most part are guarding their rates because they don’t want one hospital or physician to know because they could use that as a negotiating point,” said Meyers.
With these factors working together the price listed on a chargemaster is not the price a consumer, or a consumer’s insurance company would likely pay. Rather the highest possible charge the hospital theoretically could charge.
Here’s a list of local hospital chargemasters if you’d like look at them for yourself.