OBJECTIVES: Price transparency is gaining importance as families’ portion of health care costs rise. We describe (1) online price transparency data for pediatric care on children’s hospital Web sites and state-based price transparency Web sites, and (2) the consumer experience of obtaining an out-of-pocket estimate from children’s hospitals for a common procedure.
METHODS: From 2015 to 2016, we audited 45 children’s hospital Web sites and 38 state-based price transparency Web sites, describing availability and characteristics of health care prices and personalized cost estimate tools. Using secret shopper methodology, we called children’s hospitals and submitted online estimate requests posing as a self-paying family requesting an out-of-pocket estimate for a tonsillectomy-adenoidectomy.
RESULTS: Eight children’s hospital Web sites (18%) listed prices. Twelve (27%) provided personalized cost estimate tool (online form n = 5 and/or phone number n = 9). All 9 hospitals with a phone number for estimates provided the estimated patient liability for a tonsillectomy-adenoidectomy (mean $6008, range $2622–$9840). Of the remaining 36 hospitals without a dedicated price estimate phone number, 21 (58%) provided estimates (mean $7144, range $1200–$15 360). Two of 4 hospitals with online forms provided estimates. Fifteen (39%) state-based Web sites distinguished between prices for pediatric and adult care. One had a personalized cost estimate tool.
CONCLUSIONS: Meaningful prices for pediatric care were not widely available online through children’s hospital or state-based price transparency Web sites. A phone line or online form for price estimates were effective strategies for hospitals to provide out-of-pocket price information. Opportunities exist to improve pediatric price transparency.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics