The State of Florida is now providing consumers with more information about health care costs.
Governor Ron DeSantis visited a Walmart in Palm Harbor on Monday to announce the launch of a website where people can go to find prices for common services.
The data on floridahealthfinder.gov is based on nearly 70 million claims provided by insurers. In some cases, patients can see what they can expect to pay at specific hospitals or providers in their area.
DeSantis says the website is one part of his plan to lower health care costs for consumers.
“We think that this is a powerful tool that can be used as we look to innovate in health care and to save costs,” DeSantis said. “I think most people, they want high quality care but they want it in the most cost effective way and so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
He provided an example of the cost of knee replacement in Tampa that ranges from $33,000 to $54,000 dollars.
“That’s a difference of $21,000,” he said. “In other areas of life you probably wouldn’t have that unless there’s some obvious benefit for quality.”
The website, which is operated by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, also allows consumers to research quality data that the state collects on specific providers.
There is information about costs at facilities for 44 common non-emergency procedures. The website also has county, state and national cost averages for more than 200 services.
However, consumers who use the site are warned that the actual price they pay may differ based on their insurance and deductible or other factors like their health.
The need for price transparency is greater than ever with more consumers pushed into high deductible health insurance plans, said Rep. Chris Sprowls, of Palm Harbor. If consumers on those plans get sick or injured, their insurance doesn’t kick in until they’ve met their deductibles, which can be as high as $5,000 or more.
Sprowls sponsored a bill that led to the website.
“The reality is most people know more about the television that they are going to buy than the person who is going to do their heart surgery.” Sprowls said. “That’s not acceptable. So we’re trying to pull back the curtain to arm consumers with information so they can begin to shop with the same veracity for the person who is going to do their surgery as they do for the consumer product that they are going to buy at a retailer.”
The state will use its purchasing power through Medicaid and the state employee health insurnace plan to drive transparency and accountability in the health care system, said Mary Mayhew, secretary of the Agency For Health Care Administration. It will partner with employers – like Walmart – across the state to do the same.
“Medicaid is a huge purchaser of health care in this state — $28 billion a year spent on health care a year for nearly 4 million Floridians,” she said. “Through our collective purchasing power we can promote high-quality, affordable care by moving the health care market to reward providers who are adhering to evidence-based practices, clinical protocols supported by research.”
The idea is to discourage providers from ordering unnecessary procedures that are driving up the cost of health care for everyone, Mayhew said.
Each year, the state will issue a transparency award to one provider who goes above and beyond to make health care more accessible and transparent, DeSantis said.