Three of the largest for-profit hospital chains in the U.S. made a combined $120 billion in 2021, while violating federal transparency laws, according to an investigation by Patient Rights Advocate.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Affordable Care Act required hospitals to be transparent about what they charge patients.
The Hospital Price Transparency Rule requires providers to post prices for their medical services online in a “machine-readable standard charges list for all items and services for all payers and plans” as well as a “standard charges list or price estimator tool for the 300 most common shoppable services,” according to the report.
The idea was to promote competition between hospitals, thereby lowering prices.
The Patient Rights Advocate report found that only 14 percent of the 1,000 hospitals reviewed were compliant with these regulations, and only 0.5 percent of hospitals owned by the three largest U.S. hospital systems – HCA Healthcare, CommonSpirit Health, and Ascension – were compliant.
None of the HCA Healthcare system’s 118 hospitals were compliant, the report found, and those three large systems made a combined $120 billion (page 3).