The new federal rule to ensure that consumers have access to relevant price information from hospitals is an important step toward transparency in the health-care system. It’s one that patients are sure to welcome.

With the prevalence of high-deductible and consumer-directed health plans on the rise, consumers are on the hook for greater portions of their health-care bills. Now more than ever, consumers have a vested interest in, and a right to know, what their care will cost them. A majority of Americans are searching for health-care price information, but nearly two-thirds say there’s not enough of this information available.

A growing number of pioneering hospitals across the country are already sharing price information, demonstrating that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requirements are achievable. The rule isn’t perfect: It doesn’t require that information be provided in languages other than English, and tools need to be developed to allow easy comparisons across hospitals. But requiring hospitals to share prices that help patients determine how much they will pay for their care, in a way that’s easily accessible and understandable to patients, will go a long way in helping patients make informed decisions about their care.

David Sandman, New York

The writer is president and chief executive of
the New York State Health Foundation.