Document Type


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School of Medicine


Health Policy, Management & Leadership


Background: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently mandated that all hospitals publish their charge description masters (CDMs) online, in a machine-readable format, by January 1, 2019. In addition, CMS recommended that CDM data be made available in a manner that was consumer friendly and accessible to patients.

Objective: This study aimed to (1) examine all hospitals across the state of Pennsylvania to understand policy compliance and (2) use established metrics to measure accessibility and consumer friendliness of posted CDM data.

Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted to quantify hospital website compliance with the recent CMS policies requiring hospitals to publish their CDM. Data were collected from all Pennsylvania hospital websites. Consumer friendliness was assessed based on searchability, number of website clicks to data, and supplemental educational materials accompanying CDMs such as videos or text.

Results: Most hospitals (189/234, 80.1%) were compliant, but significant variation in data presentation was observed. The mean number of website clicks to the CDM was 3.7 (SD 1.3; range: 1-8). A total of 23.1% of compliant hospitals provided no supplemental educational material with their CDM.

Conclusions: Although disclosure of charges has improved, the data may not be sufficient to meaningfully influence patient decision making.

Source Citation

Mullens CL, Hernandez JA, Anderson ED, Allen L Just Because (Most) Hospitals Are Publishing Charges Does Not Mean Prices Are More Transparent JMIR Med Inform 2020;8(2):e14436 URL: DOI: 10.2196/14436 PMID: 32027308 PMCID: 7055796


© Cody Lendon Mullens, J Andres Hernandez, Evan D Anderson, Lindsay Allen. Originally published in JMIR Medical Informatics (, 06.02.2020.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Medical Informatics, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

This article received support from the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.

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