Patients still have a difficult time getting pricing and financial-assistance information at California hospitals, despite claims of greater transparency, according to a report by the California HealthCare Foundation. Over three months, 622 "mystery shoppers" posed as uninsured patients requesting price information at 64 hospitals. They contacted each hospital by phone and in person, seeking a price for one of 25 elective procedures and information on available financial assistance. Some 24% of the shoppers were unable to obtain the price for the procedure they asked about. Among the 76% who did get answers, more than one-third had to make three calls or more. One shopper reported 17 different points of contact in her search. Others who obtained prices received different answers from the same hospital, according to the report. Most hospitals did not appear to have a designated person or department to provide pricing information. And while most did post information about financial assistance, the information often was hard to find and usually not comprehensive, the foundation said. Read the report. -- by Laura B. Benko
Hospital prices still hard to obtain: report
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