Aug. 28—North Carolina hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers will soon need to begin submitting prices for many of the most common procedures they perform to the state for public release.

The prices for 140 of the most common in-patient, surgical and imaging services performed at those facilities will be published on the website of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), under provisions of a law enacted Aug. 21.Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, touted the law as a way to help patients learn what they can expect to pay for common medical procedures when they are admitted to a hospital.

“This new law gives patients and their doctors pricing information so they can make an informed financial decision with regard to their health care,” McCrory said in a release. McCrory cited the release earlier this year of Medicare data on variations in hospital chargemaster prices as underlining the need for the law.

The new law also required hospitals to submit their charity policy to DHHS, which will publish those policies on its website.

The law’s hospital debt collection restrictions included barring hospitals from placing liens on patients’ homes. Additionally, it disallowed the state owned hospitals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University from garnishing patients’ wages to settle unpaid debts.

Such laws may be part of growing national trend as healthcare price transparency efforts continue to garner increasing attention. At least 30 states have enacted laws and proposed legislation affecting disclosure, transparency, or reporting of health care, provider and hospital charges and fees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Publication Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013