A federal law now requires all hospitals to list their standard charges, and Maine hospitals have begun listing prices for services online. Supporters say the law is aimed at empowering patients and ultimately driving down costs.
Ann Woloson of Consumers for Affordable Health Care says that the law is a good first step, "Hopefully the more information we have around costs, what's contributing to those costs, the more likely we're going to be able to address high rising costs of health care and other services like prescription drugs," she says.
Woloson cautions consumers to call hospitals and insurance companies to find out what's included in the prices listed online.
"Consumers should look beyond numbers on a website. They should check with hospitals about what is actually included in the prices listed. If people have insurance, they should check with their insurer to make that the hospital, and the surgeon and other ancillary costs are included in the price."