Washington hospitals now must wait longer to send past-due bills to collections

Hospitals in Washington state will have to wait longer to send patients' unpaid bills to collections under legislation signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, according to ABC-affiliate KXLY.

House Bill 1531, signed April 30, is designed to help patients with medical debt.

It requires healthcare providers to wait at least 120 days after the first billing before selling medical debt to collections agencies, according to state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, who sponsored the legislation.  Once a bill is sent to collections, agencies would reportedly not be able to give credit bureaus information for an additional 180 days. The bill also requires that patients receive information about opportunities to apply for financial assistance.

"You wouldn't hand over your credit card to be swiped by a retailer without first knowing what you actually owe. But that’s often what we're required to do to get medical treatment," Ms. Jinkins said in a news release. "This bill will help reduce medical bankruptcies and protect people’s finances."

 

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