State employees could get free skin cancer screenings
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/5/23-Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, chairs the Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The estimated new cases of melanoma skin cancer for 2023 was 9,640; 680 individuals were projected to die.

Employees covered by the state group health insurance plan will have free access to annual skin cancer screenings effective July 1 under bills that are moving through the Legislature.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government unanimously approved SB 56. That sends the bill, filed by Sen. Gayle Harrell, to its last stop at the Senate Appropriations Committee. HB 241 is the companion measure and it’s identical to the Senate bill. The House measure has cleared two committees and next heads to the Health & Human Services Committee

The Division of State Group Insurance within the Department of Management Services (DMS) estimates the bills would result in an annual increase of $416,5031 to the state employee group health plan.

But as initially filed, the measures would have cost much more. The original bills would have required all individual health insurers, all group, blanket and franchise health insurers, and all health maintenance organizations (HMOs) to cover and pay for annual skin cancer screenings performed by a Florida licensed dermatologist. Estimates put the potential cost impact as high as $16 million.

Because the bills would have altered the mandated benefits and would have impacted so-called Obamacare plans, the state would be required to absorb the costs, not the insurance industry or the insured.

Harrell, though, said the mandate is a cost saver, not a cost driver, noting that some melanomas can cost upward of $500,000 to treat if not detected early.

A legislative staff analysis underscores her point. According to a legislative staff analysis, in 2018 four of the five cities in the U.S. with the highest skin cancer prevalence rates were found in Florida: Sarasota-Bradenton (10%), Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie (9.5%), West Palm Beach-Boca Raton (9.5%), and Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay (8.6 %)

“What we are doing here is going to prove a point, especially melanoma. The long-term consequences, fiscal, are huge when treating it,” she said. “This is a fiscal impact on the state group insurance plan but in the long run, we’re going to show it’s going to save money and it’s going to save lives.”

The bill requires that the annual exam be conducted by either a dermatologist or an advanced practice registered nurse who is under the supervision of a dermatologist. Moreover, the bill prohibits all contracted state group health insurance plans or HMOs from bundling payment for a skin cancer screening with any other procedure or service.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Ron DiSaster

    February 13, 2024 at 12:51 pm

    Socialist Skin Cancer Screening? In the FREE State of Florida?
    *clutches pearls*

  • It's Complicated

    February 13, 2024 at 1:53 pm

    Had a friend who died of metastatic melanoma in his 40s. He was an ‘always in the sun’ outdoorsmen and beach lover, and was otherwise the picture of fitness and health. He left a family behind, which was very sad.

    Make a good quality sunscreen on your face, neck, hands and arms a daily part of your life, and if you wear shorts a lot, your legs, too. I’m talking about a cosmetic quality sunscreen, too, not the stuff you slather on at the beach – which you should still do when you are at the beach!

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 13, 2024 at 2:41 pm

    Is screening really necessary and beneficial in Florida? The answer is always “yes you have a precancerous spot” except when there’s a false negative. Just send folks straight to treatment. Screening not needed.

  • Ruth

    February 19, 2024 at 2:52 pm

    New tech out of FL at assure access for all Floridians access to skin cancer screenings.
    CE-Marked, FDA Breakthrough device was cleared in January 2024 as the first FDA-cleared skin cancer detection device in the U.S. that provides PCPs’ with any type of immediate, objective risk assessment for skin cancer. Our handheld, non-invasive spectroscopy technology equips America’s most accessible provider (PCPs) to detect the most common cancer (skin cancer). With $30M raised to date and supported by pioneering entrepreneurs Dr. Maurice Ferre and Dr. Fred Moll, our system has been used to assess thousands of diagnosed skin lesions across 13 clinical studies. The company’s clinical validation studies have shown that the device algorithm’s performance is higher than PCPs and is comparable to that of in-person dermatologists specialized in skin cancer care. The company’s pivotal clinical utility study with 108 PCPs found that device use decreases their missed skin cancers (i.e. false negative referrals) by half, while the PCPs’ accuracy was also observed to increase.

Comments are closed.


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