A new year means new laws.
For example, California became the first state that will require pet stores to only sell cats, dogs and rabbits if they come from shelters or rescue groups. And in 20 states, the minimum wage is increasing, putting pressure on other states to raise their minimum wage to stay competitive.
And now there's a new federal law that requires hospitals to post prices for procedures online. This will allow patients to see how much surgery or tests could cost before they set their appointment.
Some argue that posting this information is going to allow for pricing transparency and that patients will be better informed. It will let them shop around and find the best value. But on the flip side, experts say the prices can be deceiving.
That's because most of us worry about what we'll pay after our insurance kicks in. The prices posted online are do not account for insurance. After insurance companies negotiate prices with health care providers, you could end up paying something totally different.
Melanie O'Connell, the senior director of pricing strategy with Novant Health, released the following statement to NBC Charlotte:
"As of January 1, Novant Health is required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to post all standard hospital charges on Novant Health facility websites. While we want to provide price transparency to our patients, this is not an effective way to do that. Instead we recommend that patients speak with our financial navigators to get a better understanding of their healthcare costs. Patients may call 888-277-3901 in North Carolina and 703-369-8020 in Virginia to learn more.”
For people who don't have insurance or are considering going out of their network for treatment, seeing prices online may be helpful. It could give them a ballpark figure of what they'd be paying out of pocket for a procedure.