New VHHA interactive tool provides links to Virginia

New VHHA interactive tool provides links to Virginia

RICHMOND – As part of its continuing efforts to enhance public understanding of the health care delivery system, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) has unveiled a new online tool featuring health care price transparency and financial assistance policy information for hospitals across Virginia.

The Virginia Hospital Price Transparency and Financial Assistance Policies tool is a public resource that can help support patients’ health care decision-making. The tool provides links through which users can review the cost of many common hospital-based services and procedures at hospitals across Virginia. Available price estimator tools can help users gain insight about potential out-of-pocket costs for needed care. The information available through such tools is based on hospital prices. What patients ultimately pay for health care services is based on provider prices as well as the insurance coverage they have. Unfortunately, many Virginians continue to experience a dramatic rise in the cost of deductibles and co-pays required by their health insurance plan. A recent Altarum Institute analysis of economic trends in Virginia’s health care sector found that “annual single and family premiums have increased 16 percent and 15.5 percent respectively between 2015-2020, while combined premium + deductible totals have increased even faster (22.4 percent for single coverage and 19.2 percent for family coverage).”

VHHA’s new online resource includes links to hospital price estimator tools; hospital files of 300 shoppable services in lieu of a price estimate tool; a listing of hospitals’ machine-readable files that describe items and services, standard charges, and more; and financial assistance policies for Virginia hospitals. Many Virginia hospitals provide deeply discounted services and

  

even no-cost care for qualifying low-income patients. In 2020, Virginia hospitals provided $432 million in charity care to patients. Virginia hospitals also continue to cover the state share of costs for Medicaid expansion, which has enabled more than 671,000 low-income Virginians to gain health coverage. In state fiscal year 2023, Virginia hospitals will fund $547 million in state costs to support the program.

“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 M. Mulkey, the CEO of Clinch Valley Health and the Chair of the VHHA Board of Directors. “The publication of this new online tool demonstrates our continued commitment to advancing those values.”

Added VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton: “This new online tool continues a long tradition of Virginia hospitals promoting transparency about health care prices, the COVID-19 pandemic, inpatient behavioral health admissions, health care quality in hospitals, and so much more. With the support of our member hospitals and health systems, we are pleased to present this information to the public.”

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires hospitals to post online a machine-readable file and either a consumer-friendly file with at least 300 shoppable services or a price estimator tool so consumers can shop and compare costs between providers. The dashboard is compliant with these standards and other applicable federal and state price transparency requirements. Publication of this new online tool is a continuation of efforts by Virginia hospitals to promote health care price transparency. From 2006-2022, VHHA maintained Virginia PricePoint, a public-facing website created to provide basic demographic, quality, and charge information on Virginia hospitals. In its place, VHHA has created the new online tool with links to facility-specific information to help enhance public understanding of the cost of hospital services.

The Hospital Price Transparency Tool is the latest offering from the VHHA Data Analytics Team to help enhance public understanding of the health care delivery system. Other VHHA data dashboards include the recently launched Behavioral Health Inpatient Data Dashboard, the Virginia Hospital COVID-19 Data Dashboard that was first published in April 2020 and has now been viewed more than 7.1 million times, the interactive Community Benefit dashboard, the Social Determinants of Health Data Dashboard, the Virginia Hospital Patient Experience Data Dashboard, and the Community Health Legislative Dashboards.

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 110 hospitals and 25 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Its vision is through collaboration with members and stakeholders, to ensure the sustainability of Virginia health care system, transform the delivery of care to promote lower costs and high value across the continuum of care, and to improve health for all Virginians. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.