TUESDAY, May 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Most U.S. hospitals remain noncompliant with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rule mandating that hospital chargemasters be publicly available, according to a research letter published online May 14 in JAMA Network Open.

Waqas Haque, M.P.H., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, and colleagues assessed the compliance of hospitals with the CMS ruling mandating that hospital chargemasters be publicly available in a machine-readable file 18 months after its effective date.

The researchers found that 51.5 percent of hospitals did not have an online chargemaster in a machine-readable format. Reaching the chargemaster from the institution website homepage required a median number of three clicks. Greater compliance was associated with below-average patient experience (versus at or above-average patient experience) and private nonprofit ownership (versus local government ownership), while psychiatric hospitals (versus acute care hospitals) and religious ownership (versus local government ownership) were associated with lower compliance. Prices were more frequently found for medications and laboratory tests than for imaging.

“This work calls into question the effectiveness of CMS rulings to promote price transparency and highlights the challenges of creating effective price transparency tools for consumers,” the authors write.

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