Virginia hospital group launches online tool that helps with price transparency and financial assistance

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The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association has launched a tool to help Virginians with hospital price transparency and financial assistance.

The free tool, which can be found on the group’s website, links to hospital websites that provide prices for common procedures and services, and price estimators that can help patients calculate potential out-of-pocket expenses at specific facilities depending on their insurance.

Hospitals were required to include pricing information online on Jan. 1, 2021, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“Virginia hospitals are committed to caring for the communities we serve, helping people lead healthier lives, and working to educate the public about how our health care system functions,” said Peter Mulkey, chair of the VHHA Board of Directors and the CEO of Clinch Valley Health in a news release. “The publication of this new online tool demonstrates our continued commitment to advancing those values.”

Annual single and family premiums increased 16% and 15.5% between 2015 and 2020, while premium and deductibles combined have increased over 22% for singles and over 19% for family coverage over the same period, according to a study by the Altarum Institute, a health research and consulting group.

Across the commonwealth, hospitals provided $432 million in charity care to patients during 2020, according to VHHA data.