Bozeman Health, Billings Clinic provide easier access to costs for services

Posted at 2:49 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 18:25:13-05

BOZEMAN – A new federal requirement regarding price transparency aims to make the process of receiving medical care easier for consumers.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, hospitals around the nation are required to list their rates for all services and procedures.

Bozeman Health CFO Brad Ludford says the new requirement poses a challenge since the hospital’s pricing list contains thousands of individual items.

“It’s fairly complicated to group it in a logical, easy to understand format, so we put a lot of time and energy trying to create groups that make sense for consumers,” Ludford said.

A few clicks on your computer and you’ll find both Bozeman Health and Billings Clinic are doing a good job of making these prices clear.

Ludford says Bozeman Health is passionate about price transparency, and while locally it’s pretty easy to navigate these prices, across the nation that’s not always the case.

“In fact, some in the industry are encouraging health systems to be confusing because it will protect them when invariably there are questions with a patient’s bill. So I think there’s a movement to fight against the transparency that’s being asked for,” said Ludford.

Bozeman Health says it’s also hoping to roll out a tool this summer which will enable patients to figure out what their out-of-pocket cost will be for procedures and services after insurance is billed. This is a tool Billings Clinic already has in place.

Both hospitals say they are committed to transparency, even if the nationwide trend is different.

“We have a very thoughtful financial advocacy program at Bozeman Health,” said Shari Johnson, system director of revenue cycles. “We have financial counselors to work directly with our patients to provide financial assistance and become their financial advocate here at Bozeman.”

Click here for a link to the Montana Hospital Association’s website to compare prices.

Reporting by Patrice Parks for MTN News