Washington Charity Care Act Requires Hospitals to Screen Low-Income Individuals for Discounted Care
Are you a low-income individual or family with an annual income at or less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines? If a hospital sent your medical bills to collections before screening you for your eligibility, you might have a class action on your hands.
Washington State law requires hospitals to properly screen low-income patients for charity care, which is discounted or free care depending on the case. Unfortunately, many hospitals are failing to satisfy their obligations under the Charity Care Act, which requires the screening to occur prior to sending off unpaid medical bills to collections (which propels a poor consumer into an endless debt cycle out of which they cannot escape).
If you have an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, then you may have a case to seek remedies from the hospital and to require the hospital to change its unfair business practices, including paying your attorney's fees and costs.
2017 Federal Poverty Levels
- Single-person household: $13,860.00 (200% = $27,720.00)
- Two-person household: $18,670.00 (200% = $37,340.00)
- Three-person household: $23,480.00 (200% = $46,960.00)
- Four-person household: $28,290.00 (200% = $56,580.00)
This means that if you are a family of four (or less) and make $56,580 or less annually total, then you're entitled to charity care (discounted or free medical services) and that a hospital is required to screen you for your eligibility before instituting any collection efforts on your medical bills.