PriceCheck: Florida Earns 'F' On Transparency Report Card

Aug 15, 2016

Florida and 42 other states fail to give the public easy access to health care pricing, according to a new report.

The study, co-published by two nonprofits -- Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute -- assessed how readily consumers were able to find health care prices in each state.

Suzanne Delbanco , the executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform, said Florida is not alone when it comes to getting an ‘F’ grade.

“Most states have not done enough to ensure that consumers have access to health care price information,” Delbanco said.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration has the floridahealthfinder.gov website, but it lists only the amount on the hospital bill, not what insurers actually pay. The report from the two consumer-advocacy groups says that what patients need is a site where they can find data to help them budget medical expenses.

In 2014, the AHCA requested about $5 million to build an all payer claims database. The database, dubbed the Health Care Cost Analytic Tool, would have revealed how and where health care is being delivered and what it actually costs.

However, Gov. Rick Scott did not include it in his budget proposal, and it has been largely ignored by state legislators.

Earlier this year, however, Gov. Rick Scott signed a health care transparency bill that requires doctors to provide estimates of costs if a patient requests it. It also requires insurers to create pricing tools on their websites.

Delbanco said this law and others passed by Florida still fall short.

"It doesn't provide price information or specific cost sharing information for an individual consumer who will have a unique insurance plan,” Delbanco said.

The report says Florida can improve its grade if it creates one publicly-accessible website for consumers with data from health care providers and insurance companies.

Health News Florida has also embarked on a project to help take the frustration and guesswork out of health care pricing. The PriceCheck tool allows consumers to compare the price of common medical procedures and lets them share their costs. 

Daylina Miller is a reporter with WUSF in Tampa. WUSF is part of  Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.