The Basic Human Needs Project is dedicated to the ensuring patients with low incomes have a right to free or reduced-cost hospital care, known as Charity Care. Hospitals have a duty make patients aware of Charity Care and screen patients to determine if they qualify for Charity Care before any collection efforts. Yet current notification practices leave many patients unware that this financial support is available, and information about Charity Care in languages other than English is difficult to find, which does not represent the diverse patients in Washngton.
The effect of hospitals’ notification practices is immense. Most patients who are eligible for Charity Care do not receive it. 522,000 (7.3%) of Washingtonians lack healthcare insurance and most of them would qualify for Charity Care, yet Charity Care accounts for only 1.8% of hospital charges as a percentage of revenues. This number does not include the qualified low-income patients whose insurance does not cover all of their medical expenses.The Charity Care Notification bill (HB 1359 and SB 5231) would require that patients receive written notification about the availability of Charity Care in English and the second-most spoken non-English language in the hospital's service area.
WATCH Past Committee Hearings:
WATCH Past Committee Hearings