North Carolina Hospitals Must Post Prices for 140 Procedures

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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed into law House Bill 834, which requires hospitals to post their prices on 140 of their most common procedures.

Under the new law, all hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers will submit pricing on the 100 most common inpatient diagnosis-related groups, effective April 1, 2014, and every quarter thereafter, to North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services.

Beginning July 1, 2014, hospitals and ASCs will also provide prices for the 20 most common surgical procedures and 20 most common imaging procedures, bringing the total number of required priced procedures to 140. The original bill only called for the 50 most common procedures.

In addition, all hospitals will have to submit their charity care policy. DHHS will publish the pricing and charity care information on its website.

The law, which made its way through North Carolina's legislature over the course of this year, came in response to several local newspaper reports that found significant variation in hospital prices for certain procedures, with some hospitals' prices three times more than those of their peers.  

Price transparency within the healthcare sector has gained traction since February, when a TIME exposé looked at the high, muddied costs at hospitals and other provider settings. Since then, CMS released data on the most common inpatient and outpatient charges. In June, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer also signed legislation that requires hospitals to post their prices for their 50 most common inpatient and outpatient procedures.

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