COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Starting Thursday, September 1, Colorado hospitals will be required to take certain steps to make hospital bills more affordable for low-to-moderate income Coloradans.
The new Hospital Discounted Care Law is going into effect Thursday, after the passage of House Bill 21-1198.
"This new law will cap the amount that hospitals can charge folks who are low and moderate-income and set reasonable payment plans for them," said Adam Fox, Deputy Director of Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. "It also restricts some of the potential collection actions that a hospital could undertake.”
Under Colorado’s Hospital Discounted Care law, all hospitals in the state are required to:
- Screen patients to see if they qualify for help paying their bills
- Inform patients of their rights
- Offer discounts and affordable payment plans on hospital care to patients who qualify based on their income
- Take certain steps before sending an unpaid hospital bill to collections.
All hospitals must check if you qualify for help.
But heads up — if you have insurance, you’ll have to ask to be screened first.
"All Coloradans can qualify up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level," said Fox. "So that's about $2,830 a month for an individual. It doesn't matter whether you have insurance or are uninsured, whether you're a citizen or legal permanent resident, and your documentation status doesn't matter. We all need hospital care, and people who are low and moderate-income need the support more than anybody.”
UCHealth says it has been educating its staff on the change for several weeks. They say their patients will be informed of their right to be screened and will be provided a hospital-discounted care disclosure during their visit.
"What this really means is hospitals have the responsibility to go through this screening process with folks who are uninsured and people who are insured can ask to be screened," said Fox. "It really puts some of the responsibility on hospitals to make sure that they're providing this information and screening people appropriately. And if they don't follow the law, they could get sued.”
For a full fact sheet about the new law, click here.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative also has more information on its website.