According to a Wall Street Journal examination, hospitals that are now being required to disclose pricing data have blocked that information from web searches so it’s very difficult to find.
The information must be disclosed under a federal rule aimed at making the $1 trillion sector more consumer friendly. But hundreds of hospitals embedded code in their websites that prevented Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other search engines from displaying pages with the price lists, according to the Journal examination of more than 3,100 sites.
The code keeps pages from appearing in searches, such as those related to a hospital’s name and prices, computer-science experts said. The prices are often accessible other ways, such as through links that can require clicking through multiple layers of pages.
“It’s technically there, but good luck finding it,” said Chirag Shah, an associate professor at the University of Washington who studies human interactions with computers. “It’s one thing not to optimize your site for searchability, it’s another thing to tag it so it can’t be searched. It’s a clear indication of intentionality.”
Read more in the Wall Street Journal.