TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A program pushed by former Gov Rick Scott to help people compare prices and shop for medical procedures has cost taxpayers millions of dollars but has garnered little attention from the public.
The state has paid more than $5 million for the FloridaHealthPriceFinder website over the past three years, according to a review of state financial records. But the site has generated just 131,653 visits since its launch in November 2017, information from the state Agency for Health Care Administration shows.
Despite a lack of visits, AHCA officials remain upbeat about the initiative.
“FloridaHealthPriceFinder is still out there going strong,” Nikole Helvey, bureau chief of the Florida Center for Health Information and Transparency, told members of a health-information advisory committee Thursday.
She also said the state in July began collecting 2019 claims data, which is being reviewed for accuracy and quality. Helvey said the FloridaHealthPriceFinder website will be updated to include the 2019 claims data by spring 2021.
“We’ll be excited to see that information coming through,” she said.
In a statement to The News Service of Florida, Scott spokeswoman Sarah Schwirian defended the initiative.
“There’s no reason patients shouldn’t know exactly what their procedures and prescriptions cost before they go into the doctor’s office or pharmacy,” she said. “Investing in efforts to increase transparency and lower the cost of health care for American families is worth it.”
Scott, a former hospital-company executive, convinced lawmakers in 2016 to authorize a statewide all-payer claims database that receives information from insurers about how much they reimbursed health providers for medical procedures. That information can then be used for the FloridaHealthPriceFinder website.
Scott, now a U.S. senator, championed health-care cost “transparency” and the establishment of the database after hospitals in 2015 supported a proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility under the