New Law Ensures That Hospitals Provide Affordable Care

January 11, 2023 at 9:10 a.m.
A new Washington State law offers discounted or free care at hospitals across the state
A new Washington State law offers discounted or free care at hospitals across the state

This past summer, the State of Washington passed a new law that offers discounted or free care at hospitals across the state. The law gives Washington the strongest protection in the country for out-of-pocket hospital costs.

The new law – which took effect on July 1, 2022 – requires that large hospital systems provide more financial assistance. Approximately half of all Washingtonians will be eligible for reduced-cost or free care at about 80% of the licensed beds in the state.

All you have to do is ask your hospital’s billing department.  The discounts apply to all out-of-pocket expenses, including co-pays and deductibles, and are based on your household income. The law does not apply to physician bills. However, many hospitals require that physicians who operate in their hospitals honor their discounted care policies. Check with your hospital for details.

“This is a landmark achievement for affordable health care,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “Too many Washingtonians are just one hospital bill away from financial crisis.” He added, “Make sure you know what kind of assistance you qualify for, and if you aren’t getting it, contact my office.”

Representative Tara Simmons of Bremerton worked with Ferguson and other legislators on the new law. “No Washingtonian should be bankrupted by a trip to the emergency room,” she said.

The new law offers two tiers of financial assistance: one for large health care systems and another for smaller, independent hospitals. The discounted care law ensures that everyone making up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level is eligible for free or reduced hospital bills. Families making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for discounts as well, depending on the hospital.

To be sure if you qualify, contact your hospital’s billing department and ask for an application for discounted care. After you apply, your hospital is required to inform you if you are eligible before attempting to collect payment.

To learn more about the new law and for an eligibility chart, along with answers to the most commonly asked questions, visit  Discounted hospital care.

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