A new state law took effect on August 8th in Colorado that restricts how much hospitals can bill an uninsured patient, and how tough a hospital may be in going after non-payers.
The law, called the Hospital Payment Assistance Program is designed to help Coloradans responsibly pay their hospital bills. According to cohealthinitiative.org, the law requires hospitals to provide information about any charity or discount care programs, screen patients for the hospital’s discount programs, limit charges for qualified patients, and take certain steps before sending a patient to collections.
The Denver Post reported that, “Perhaps the best feature of the bill was the order that hospitals charge the uninsured only the same they would charge for a negotiated discount with a major insurance company. That can quickly bring down a $100,000 heart surgery bill to a more manageable $15,000 or so.”
The Gazette reported that, “Representatives of the two hospital systems in Colorado Springs say the new law won’t have much impact on them, because they’ve been doing what it requires.” (This article has since been removed from the Gazette website.) The Gazette went on to quote the spokesman for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, Chris Valentine, who said that its charity care and financial assistance policy has been in place since 2006, and served as the template for the new law.
Rob Rush, who spoke for Memorial Health Systems, said, “The only change we made was to add information to our website about payment policies.”
If you have any questions about the law or need more information, contact the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative at 303-839-1261.