How price transparency could affect anesthesia practices — 5 takeaways

As the federal government pushes for increased price transparency, anesthesia practices should prepare to see volume changes at their facilities, according to Anesthesia Business Consultants President and CEO Tony Mira.

Here are five takeaways:

1. With patients' out-of-pocket costs growing, the federal government has made price transparency a top priority.

2. CMS updated the final rule for the Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment system, requiring hospitals to make a list of their standard charges publicly available or to publicize policies for viewing those charges upon request, beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The information must be updated at least annually.

3. CMS also launched the Procedure Price Lookup tool, which allows consumers to search average Medicare payments for surgical procedures performed in hospital outpatient departments and ASCs. The costs don't include professional service fees.

4. With this tool, patients may compare the costs of a procedure among facilities, which could impact anesthesiologists. If the cost of a procedure differs significantly between facilities, anesthesiologists may see changes in volume.

"The emerging price transparency here, based on facility costs, may drive a group’s business in a number of different directions depending on their affiliations," Mr. Mira said.

5. In the midst of increasing price transparency, it's important for both patients and providers to consider quality metrics, volume and outcomes, according to Mr. Mira.

"At this point, anesthesia groups should be aware that patients are going to have access to more information about the costs of procedures, and that this information could conceivably influence activity levels and patterns at their facilities as transparency comes to the fore," he said.

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