The Phoenix Flyer

New FL health insurance programs signed into law

By: - June 13, 2019 10:26 am

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Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation that legislative backers say will encourage Floridians to save money by shopping for certain medical services based on comparison pricing.

The so-called “Patient Savings Act” (HB 1113) encourages insurers to offer “shared savings incentive” programs. Participating policyholders would shop for nonemergency health care services, including lab and diagnostic tests, OB-GYN services, radiology, physical and occupational therapy, prescription drugs, and telehealth services.

Any savings realized against the average price for such services would be returned to policyholders in the form of reduced premiums or credits for flexible or health saving accounts.

The state has been working with insurers to create what DeSantis, during a news conference Wednesday at CenterOne Surgery Center in Jacksonville, called a “transparency portal,” disclosing prices for various medical services. He wasn’t certain when the tool would be ready, but said he has told officials “to make it a priority.”

The measure will impose a pharmaceutical formulary list under the health insurance offered to state workers – that is, a list of preferred drugs, often cheaper generics. Reportedly, it’s the first time in two decades that the state plan has included a drug formulary list. However, the coverage would pay for name-brand drugs when a doctor deems them medically necessary.

State workers could also take advantage if Florida  begins importing pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, as envisioned in legislation DeSantis signed Tuesday. Again, the idea is to save money – drugs cost considerably less in Canada than in the United States.  That program is contingent on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approval, however. Although DeSantis has said that President Trump is on board, it’s not clear whether or when the feds might actually give the OK.

The legislation also expands insurance coverage to nutritional supplements when medically necessary. Under the old law, patients paid for these supplements out-of-pocket.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.