California AG issues consumer alert over hospital charity care policies

California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert June 14, after receiving reports that hospitals are failing to inform patients about charity care options.  

State law requires all hospitals to provide medical care for free, or at a reduced cost, if a qualifying patient cannot afford to pay for that medical treatment. Hospitals are required to provide written notice to patients about the availability of charity care.

California's Justice Department has received complaints, particularly from rural and farm-working communities across the state, that hospitals are not providing charity care policy information in a language that patients understand, according to a June 14 news release from the attorney general. 

Charity care policies must be provided in the language spoken by the patient if that language is spoken by 5 percent or more of the patients served by the hospital, Mr. Bonta said in a separate June 14 letter to hospitals. 

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