Families left in the dark about projected costs of their children's hospital stays, Stanford study finds

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Despite wanting to have conversations with hospital staff about the projected cost of their children's care, many families are left in the dark, a new study led by Stanford (Calif.) Medicine found. 

For the study, published Sept. 21 in JAMA Network Open, researchers surveyed 526 parents of inpatients at six academic medical centers in the U.S. 

The researchers found that although 76 percent of families wanted to have conversations about medical costs, just 7 percent of families had these conversations during their child's stay. 

The researchers also found that 75 percent of families surveyed were concerned about how much they would need to pay, including 32 percent who were moderately or very concerned. 

The researchers also found that about half of parents surveyed wanted to have cost conversations before their child received tests and treatments. 

"Part of what we hope this paper will do is to serve as a wake-up call to say, 'We have to better counsel families on the anticipated cost of their child's care,'" said Hannah Bassett, MD, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine and the study's lead author.

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