By Britt Landis, Health Policy Associate
Hospital bills: they can be big, sometimes shockingly big. They can also be hard to understand, keep us from getting the care we need, and even put us into medical debt.
There is good news, however! An important law goes into effect today, August 8, 2012. This law is called the Hospital Payment Assistance Program and it is designed to help Coloradans responsibly pay their hospital bills. The law does not make hospital bills go away, unfortunately. But, it does help Coloradans get information from hospitals about their bills, and, for those who need it most, discounts and payment plans.
The law requires hospitals to:
- Provide information about discount and charity care programs online, in bills, and in the hospital;
- Screen you for the hospital’s discount programs including the Hospital Payment Assistance Program;
- Limit charges for
qualified patients (uninsured Coloradans making under $27,925 for an individual $57,625 for a family of 4) to the same amount they charge an insurer for another patient.
- Take certain steps BEFORE sending you to collections including:
- Wait thirty days after your first late payment;
- Offer you a
reasonable payment plan.
Help us spread the word about the Hospital Payment Assistance Program! This new program can help uninsured patients not only get the care they need, but also responsibly pay for that care at a reasonable rate.
Along with our partner, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, we created a new summary of the law for providers, and fact sheet for patients (in Spanish). Please share them with your loved ones and networks.
If you have any questions about the law, contact the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative at 303-839-1261.