According to the Spokesman-Review, on June 12 a lawsuit was filed against Deaconess and Valley hospitals in Spokane for failure to comply with the Washington Charity Care Act. The article indicates that people who make up to 100% of the poverty line are entitled to free health care at major hospitals in Washington, and people who make up to 200% of the poverty line are entitled to substantial discounts. While this is true, the article leaves out the fact that Washington law is much more robust than that. In many instances, people with a household income below 400% of the poverty line are entitled to a substantial reduction in their medical bills. To put this in perspective, a household of 4 could make over $97,000 per year and still qualify for a reduced bill.
Not every person in Washington is entitled to reduced medical bills, and not every hospital in Washington must offer a reduction in cost. However, in 2015 $532 million worth of Washington hospital revenue was from reduced fee billings. As the Spokane lawsuit estimates, this is in light of the fact that many hospitals do not make it easy for people to learn about the laws or get a reduction when they qualify. There are likely thousands or tens of thousands of people in Washington with medical debt who are entitled to a substantial reduction.
At Navigate, we can help you determine if you qualify for a reduced fee and assert your rights if you do. If you think you may qualify for reduced medical debt you should contact an attorney.
Eli Marchbanks, Medical Debt Attorney
Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.