CMS is hoping to improve Medicare by working with private groups to make electronic medical records more readily available to patients. Many health care providers already make computerized records available to patients, but starting in 2021 Medicare would base part of a hospital’s payments on how good a job they do.  Using electronic medical records is easier, cheaper, and more secure than paper records and CMS has invited technology companies to design secure apps that would let patients access their records from all their providers instead of having to go to different portals.

 The Trump Administration will force hospitals and other health care providers to post their “standard prices” online.   It is difficult to decipher what they might include in that definition.  Hospitals are already required to disclose prices publicly, but the new regulation by Trump would require that information online in machine-readable format that can be easily processed by computers. It may still prove to be confusing to consumers, since standard rates are like list prices and don’t reflect what insurers and government programs pay according to experts.

“We are just beginning on price transparency,” said Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “We know that hospitals have this information and we’re asking them to post what they have online.”

Patients concerned about their potential out-of-pocket costs from a hospitalization would still be advised to consult with their insurer. Most insurance plans nowadays have an annual limit on how much patients must pay in copays and deductibles — although traditional Medicare does not.

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