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HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS RIGHT TO KNOW ACT: AN IDEA THAT JUST MAKES SENSE

March 8, 2004

Comparing prices on services we pay for is something we all do almost on a daily basis. It’s just the “American” way of doing things.  In your business you may want to make sure the computers you buy or lease are the best deal possible.  You may even compare prices on the temp agencies you use for personnel.  In our personal lives we do it when we get our car repaired, taxes done and certainly for things like mortgage rates.  Then doesn’t it make sense that you would want to be able to see what medical procedures are going to cost you to have done at various hospitals, and how that cost may compare with other hospitals?

When you think about it, short of some kind of elective procedure, we almost never ask the price of our health care.  Frankly, even if you did ask, you probably couldn’t get the answer, or at least one you understood.   No wonder healthcare costs are among the most critical issue facing Floridians today.  No one has the ability to see what each hospital is going to charge for their services as compared to other hospitals.  Well, finally there is a proposal that could change that.

It is called the Health Care Consumers Right to Know Act, or "HealthCheck" (HB 701) and would require the State of Florida to make the price and performance data it already collects on Florida’s hospitals and outpatient facilities available to the public on the internet. Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) thinks this is such a great idea that we have joined a group called, "HealthCheck" (www.flhealthcheck.org), an advocacy coalition of organizations that are supporting this effort and will be lobbying the Florida Legislature to pass this concept into law.

In addition to disclosure of price and performance data, the bill (HB 701) also protects consumers from unfair facility charges for undisclosed, non-emergency care, and gives consumers the ability to audit their health care bills and patient records.  In addition, HB 701 requires a 30-day notice of price changes and requires disclosure of consumer alternatives.

  Features of the Health Consumers Right To Know Act

  • Estimated services and charges prior to treatment
  • Average patient charges for the top 100 procedures
  • Retail price list
  • Average length of stay
  • Readmission rates
  • Mortality rates
  • Infection rates
  • Whether computerized drug order entry systems are used to prevent medical errors

What a great idea; allow the citizens of Florida to make better informed choices about where they get their care and how their health care dollars are spent.  However, even though without this bill there is virtually no price or performance information readily available, there will be stiff opposition from some to keep this great idea from becoming law.

That is why AIF, along with its "HealthCheck" partners, will be letting the Legislature know that AIF supports giving Florida’s health care consumers the means to make educated decisions regarding their medical care. 

You can follow the status of this and other important business issues during the 2004 Session through our “Daily Brief” and “Weekly Report” informational services.