(1) The Legislature finds and declares it to be of vital importance that emergency services and care be provided by hospitals and physicians to every person in need of such care, but with the double-digit increases in health insurance premiums, health care providers and insurers should encourage patients and the insured to assume responsibility for their treatment, including emergency care. The Legislature finds that inappropriate utilization of emergency department services increases the overall cost of providing health care and these costs are ultimately borne by the hospital, by the insured patients, and, many times, by the taxpayers of this state. Finally, the Legislature declares that the providers and insurers must share the responsibility of providing alternative treatment options to urgent care patients outside of the emergency department. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to place the obligation for educating consumers and creating mechanisms for delivery of care that will decrease the overutilization of emergency service on health maintenance organizations and providers.
(2) Health maintenance organizations shall provide on their Internet websites information regarding appropriate utilization of emergency care services, which shall include, but not be limited to, a list of alternative urgent care contracted providers, the types of services offered by these providers, and what to do in the event of a true emergency.
(3) Health maintenance organizations shall develop community emergency department diversion programs. Such programs may include at the discretion of the health maintenance organization, but not be limited to, enlisting providers to be on call to subscribers after hours, coordinating care through local community resources, and providing incentives to providers for case management.
(4) As a disincentive for subscribers to inappropriately use emergency department services for nonemergency care, health maintenance organizations may require higher copayments for urgent care or primary care provided in an emergency department and higher copayments for use of out-of-network emergency departments. Higher copayments may not be charged for the utilization of the emergency department for emergency care. For the purposes of this section, the term “emergency care” has the same meaning as provided in s. 395.002 and shall include services provided to rule out an emergency medical condition.