Calif. opens hospital discount listing site

The state of California has launched a Web site which lists what discounts hospitals are willing to offer on care for uninsured patients, or what levels of charity care they offer--as well as allowing them to download applications for those hospitals' programs. Policies for about 82 percent of the state's 405 acute-care hospitals are posted to date.

The site was created because of a 2006 law, the Hospital Fair Pricing Program, which also prohibits the state's hospitals from charing low- and moderate-income patients more than their highest rates charged to government insurance programs in which they participate.

Typically, California patients who earn less than 350 percent of the federal poverty level--or whose medical costs add up to more than 10 percent of annual family income--are eligible for some form of discount or charity care. In some cases, hospitals offer discounts for patients earning up toe 400 percent or 500 percent of the federal poverty level.

To learn more about the site:
- read this San Francisco Chronicle piece

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