He said he couldn't see much of an impact on hospital financial aid offices, because "if people don't have insurance and have something done that's pretty expensive, they're already working with the financial aid folks and they're already getting the benefit of significant charity care policies."
What that means, he says, is that for self-pay patients, hospitals are receiving between 5% and 7% of the larger hospital "sticker price." And the rest is written off.
"My point is that almost all of the self-pay revenue is written off anyway. People are already getting access to charity care and discounts."
Fifer advises hospitals that do have very high prices to "look hard at some adjustments and bring them down to reflect other similar organizations."
He doesn't think, however, that hospital executives will do this right away. "I think you're going to get reactions all over the map. There's still going to be a lot of hospitals that just blow this off, saying, 'You know what? Price doesn't mean that much anyway,' so they would try to ignore it. But that would not be my advice. They open themselves up to really pretty heavy scrutiny."
CMS Releases Hospital Pricing Data