Price transparency gets spotlight during Oscars in new public service announcement

Price transparency made a cameo at the Oscars on Sunday night as an advocacy group launched a new campaign aimed at helping consumers understand a rule that requires hospitals to post their prices.

The group Power to the Patients ran an ad Sunday during the ceremony featuring actresses Susan Sarandon and Cynthia Erivo raising awareness of the rule that requires hospitals to post payer-negotiated rates online for certain procedures to help consumers learn about how much a hospital will charge.

“For far too long, hospitals across this nation have profited from concealing prices from patients,” the actresses said in the advertisement. “Hospitals are no longer allowed to keep their fees a secret.”

The campaign Power to the Patients launched at the end of March and also features public murals aimed at raising awareness. Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet and photographer Martin Schoeller are also ambassadors.

The group did not immediately return a request for comment on the organizations behind it or what the next steps in the campaign are.

RELATED: RAND: Cap on hospital rates saves more than price transparency

The ad campaign comes as hospitals have had a mixed record complying with the requirement to post payer-negotiated rates for 300 shoppable services. Several studies have shown that some large hospital systems are not compliant with the rule.

At the same time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has largely taken a wait-and-see approach to enforcement of the rule, several experts have said.

However, a public awareness campaign could put pressure on hospitals that don’t have their prices up and in an easy-to-follow format, experts have said.

Power to the Patients gives consumers advice on how to get prices, including asking for the total bundled price for services and that prices can vary significantly at the same facility.

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