Senator Creating Bill to Make 'Chargemasters' Public

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At Carefree Medical and Dental in Lansing, there's a particular type of patient that comes in.

"Our population is mostly people that don't have insurance," said Michelle Lantz, Vice President of Public Relations.

Lantz says often times, people will come in just to avoid going to the hospital without having any idea how much they'll be charged.

"Chances are you won't know how much they are, especially if you're just walking in with an illness," she said.

That's what local senator, Joe Hune, is hoping to stop with a new bill, aimed at helping those without insurance.

"We've got a bill that we're working on to mandate that the hospitals 'chargemasters', their menu of costs that they charge folks, must be put online so the public can see," said Hune (R-Hamburg Township)

Hune got the idea after reading an article in the March issue of Time Magazine. The article, 'Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us', by Steven Brill, looked at the high costs of care at hospitals. What Hune saw shocked him.

"I looked at just some of the basic things," he said. "$108 for a little tube of bacitracin antiseptic ointment. I was just trying to rack my brain about maybe doing some things to try and bring down the cost of health care."

By making hospital charges public, he hopes it will start lowering those costs. Lantz says that could be both a good and a bad thing.

"I was talking to a patient earlier today and he had a surgery and the surgery ended up costing $46,000," she said. "He told me that if he had known ahead of time, he might not have gone through with the surgery and he would be in a wheelchair now. Fortunately for him, he went through it."

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