Consumer advocate: Oregon price estimate pledge doesn't protect all patients

A consumer advocate is speaking out against Oregon hospitals' pledge to give patients price estimates within three days of scheduling a medical procedure.

The hospitals made the pledge Wednesday in a step toward improved price transparency. The initiative aims to give uninsured patients and those who are out-of-network a better idea of what procedures will cost and prepare them for financial obligations.

However, Jesse O'Brien, policy director for OSPIRG, said the nonprofit consumer group supports the hospitals' move, but believes it didn't go far enough to provide necessary transparency to patients, according to KGW.

"The hospitals are only agreeing to provide this information for uninsured or self-pay patients, which is a pretty small fraction of healthcare consumers," he told the TV station. "Insured patients can ask their insurance company for an estimate, but they can't get one directly from their doctor or hospital at the point of service."

In his interview with KGW, he went on to argue that an estimate directly from a physician or hospital could help patients in discussing cost and value with their providers.

Additionally, Mr. O'Brien noted the hospitals' cost estimates aren't in stone, so many patients could still receive a surprise final bill.



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