For hospital patients, call the hospital's gift shop. They charge less than a florist and there is no delivery charge. They are happy you are supporting the gift shop and will have them sent up to the patient.
If you are sending flowers to a person at home, locate the florist near the person and call direct and talk with them. They will let you know what they have in the price range you are thinking. Some have toll free phones.
I tried this when my mother-in-law was in the hospital, in that I called a local florist in the town where her hospital was. I charged it to my credit card and when I got the statement from the florist, I saw they still charged me some kind of FTD charge!!!
Songbird, It sounds like you didn't call a local shop...Don't be fooled by the call centers...they have ads in your local yellow pages, and even websites that lead you to believe they are local. A local florist should not charge you any fee other than delivery. Try www.flowerpowernetwork.com.