While a recent federal law requires hospitals to post prices for certain services, Texas doesn't currently have a state-level price transparency law. Caitlin Donovan of the National Patient Advocate Foundation says get prices up front. If not posted online - ask.
And why are they soooo expensive? "Whenever I talk to Hospital Billing Specialist they insist that the reason for every mark-up you see is how expensive it is to run a hospital." But a $15 Tylenol? Who says that's a fair price? Donovan replies, "The people who are charging you for these procedures and items are the ones who get to judge what a fair price is. Think about it: If YOU got to charge whatever you wanted for the job that you do --- what would YOU do?"
If you peruse your hospital bills you will probably find some amazingly high prices. Donovan says paying $15 for a single Tylenol is not only outrageous, but also not necessary. "The tricky part is --- the 'facilities fee' that you are charged is supposed to cover that. But - over time, hospitals tack the fee onto everything." You can try to talk to your congressperson, but don't hold your breath. She explains: "Most of the time our Legislature is against having any type of across-the-board rules on how much anything costs."
Donovan says if you're not insured, ask for a cash price and payment plan. She also suggests you keep a paper trail on every part of your hospital visit, and be ready to challenge the bill. If you only have paper copies - take photos of them and keep them in a safe place.