health care

Medical Comparison Shopping Coming to North Carolina

Hospitals will have to post prices

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Medicare made waves earlier this year by releasing the prices that hospitals charge for the most common procedures.

North Carolina now wants to take a step further: Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed legislation last week that will require hospitals to publish the prices that they negotiate with insurers.

This data has the potential to be significantly more useful for consumers. The prices that hospitals charge are, essentially, sticker prices. Insurance plans usually negotiate a rate lower than that opening bid. The data that North Carolina will make public is the actual amount that hospitals end up charging health plans for their services. Beginning in June 2014, the state's Health and Human Services Web site will post that information.