Low-income patients in need of medical care are not getting the financial help that is required by law, according to a new report by Columbia Legal Services.
The nonprofit legal organization hired the Equal Rights Center, a research group, to test the system. The group found that hospitals are not screening patients for “charity care” eligibility, do not inform patients of their rights to reduced-cost medical care and improperly collect on hospital bills that should never have been assessed.
The Equal Rights Center conducted phone tests at 20 hospitals across Washington state. Each hospital was contacted at least twice. Prior to calling, the organization conducted website research to determine what information was available about charity care.
The results showed a dearth of information, particularly when the inquiring party spoke Spanish. Only 28 percent of Spanish-language calls were offered any information about financial assistance, but 90 percent of English callers received information about charity care, the researchers found.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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