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DeSantis, Sprowls announce launch of data-driven health care cost comparison tool

Megan Holmes

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Gov. Ron DeSantis joined speaker designate Rep. Chris Sprowls and Secretary of Health Administration Mary Mayhew Monday at a Walmart in Palm Harbor to announce the launch of Florida Health Finder, a new data-driven tool to provide Florida health care consumers with data comparing price and quality of common health care services at a granular level.

The roll-out is one piece of an extended effort by the Florida legislature to expand consumer health care protection and increase transparency. DeSantis explained how the Florida Health Price Finder might help a patient better examine the cost of a knee replacement compared to its quality, which according to the tool, could range from $33,000 to $54,000.

“That’s a difference in $21,000,” DeSantis explained. “In other areas of life you probably wouldn’t have that unless there’s some obvious benefit in quality, but it’s not clear that a patient would have an ability to discern that based on the old system.”

Sprowls pointed to the trend of health insurance and especially employer-paid plans toward high deductible options as a main reason to compare health care costs on the front end. “Cost matters more than it has ever,” said Sprowls. “Quality matters to our families.”

In addition, he said, “The price and the quality of a consumer product that is the delivery of healthcare should be something easily navigable. That’s why we went on this project three years ago, to make sure that we have billions of lines of health care data delivered directly to a consumer, regardless of where they are, about the price of and quality of your most common medical procedures at your facilities. Not just national averages but local, granular, in your own community so that you can begin to shop.”

According to Sprowls, the state had been working on the system for the last three years, but the progress was slow under Gov. Rick Scott. When DeSantis took office, he made the consumer-oriented site a priority.

“[Health care] is one of the only areas we ask our consumers to purchase and then find out what the price is later,” Sprowls said. “Imagine if we got on Amazon right now and went to purchase something and they said purchase it first, give us your credit card number, we’ll let you know how much it costs afterwards. None of us would make that purchase, and yet we do it every day in healthcare.”

DeSantis said the system will compare prices of more than 40 common procedures requiring ambulatory care or hospital admittance, and hundreds of others. The Florida Health Finder sites allows consumers to compare procedures and health care costs from facilities like ambulatory surgery centers, assisted living facilities, home health agencies, hospitals, nursing homes and physicians. Consumers can also view data on Medicaid and various health plans.

 

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