January 14, 2016
The Florida Hospital Association has unveiled a new site dedicated to helping consumers understand costs. The website, MissionToCare.org, pulls information from both the state and federal governments to clear up the financial picture.
Governor Rick Scott has pushed for greater price transparency in hospitals, and two Florida lawmakers have filed bills relating to the issue. The state insurance advocate has also proposed ideas for cracking down on unexpected hospital bills. Now the Florida Hospital Association is out with a new site listing the prices for common procedures.
“On the search page, consumers can search by hospitals, and the individuals procedure or health condition such as cesarean section, high blood pressure or hip, ankle or knee procedures," said Kim Streit, the FHA's Vice President of Healthcare Research and Information.
The website, MissionToCare.org, gets its numbers from reports hospitals have to file with the state agency for healthcare Administration, as well as patient satisfaction data collected by the federal government.
“You could select up to three different hospitals to compare. What you would see is a side-by-side for the hospitals for each of those conditions…you can see how these hospitals compare based on that specific condition and health topic.”
Hospitals have been called out during the past year for what their critics, including the governor, say are inflated charges.
“Imagine how much more we’d pay for gas if gas stations gave us no information about the price they charge for gallon, after we’d purchased it. Instead they just sent us a bill after the fact," said Republican Rep. Rob Bradley. He says consumers wouldn’t stand for that—and yet healthcare prices are shrouded in a cloud of confusion. He and fellow Republican Rep. Chris Spowls have laid out their plan for promoting cost transparency in hospitals.
“The real priority is to empower patients to be the consumer. That’s what we’re going to see drive quality in healthcare," Sprowls said.
The Duo’s proposal requires hospitals to post on their website information for bundled healthcare services and procedures and information about financial assistance if its available. FHA spokeswoman Monica Corbett says her associations website is different from what Sprowls and Bradley have put forward.
“It does not factor in the payment bundles or the database included in both proposals," she said. "We stand ready to work with lawmakers in the House and Senate to find the best approach to give patients meaningful information about the cost and quality of their healthcare. We believe there is room to find common ground on the legislation.”
Price continues to drive the conversation around healthcare in the state. Florida’s yearly healthcare tab is topping more than $20 billion and state economists have predicted an even larger price tag this year.